Bulawayo - Daily Telegraph

If I had to imagine the writing process of many African writers, it would look like this: they draw up a list of hot-button issues on Africa: failing economes, brain drain, ailing health care, corrupt governments, human trafficking, immigrant experience and so on. Then they write stories that comment, reflect, or capture these issues.

It is always less about the story and more about hitting some imaginary list of social issues that they believe define Africa’s contemporary reality.

There are many reasons for this. And we know that it’s not a new phenomenon. Achebe’s generation did the same thing. But there are those of us who think it’s time for African writers to try out something different.

That’s why I’m not surprised that Helon Habila (Waiting for an Angel) complains that Bulawayo’s debut novel We Need New Names is driven by the desire to “cover every African topic; almost as if the writer had a checklist made from the morning’s news on Africa.”

Just as an aside. I love it when writers review other writers. There’s always a palpable tension.

Here is an excerpt of the review.

NoViolet Bulawayo‘s new novel, We Need New Names, is an extension of her Caine prize-winning short story, “Hitting Budapest“, and yes, it has fraudulent preachers and is partly set in a soul-crushing ghetto called Paradise, somewhere in Zimbabwe. Yes, there is a dead body hanging from a tree; there is Aids – the narrator’s father is dying of it; there is political violence (pro-Mugabe partisans attacking white folk and expelling them from their homes and chanting “Africa for Africans!”); there are street children – from the ranks of whom the narrator, Darling, finally emerges and escapes to America and a better life. Did I mention that one of the children, 10- or 12-year-old Chipo, is pregnant after being raped by her grandfather?

There is a palpable anxiety to cover every “African” topic; almost as if the writer had a checklist made from the morning’s news on Africa…And this is all in the first hundred pages,

Read full review HERE.

 

Image Via Telegraph.

Tags: , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

#CainePrize2017 | Review of Lesley Nneka Arimah’s Who Will Greet You at Home? | By Socrates Mbamalu

brittle paper reviews (5)

Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up mostly in Nigeria. Her story, “Light,” won the 2015 Commonwealth […]

The Labors of the Months: Of Work and Its Refuseniks | By Rotimi Babatunde

work naija vocation

  In October 2016, we published Enter Naija: The Book of Places, an anthology of creative nonfiction, photography, poetry, digital […]

Imbolo Mbue’s Behold The Dreamers Picked for Oprah’s Book Club

oprah mbue

Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers has been selected by Oprah Winfrey for her Book Club. The media mogul revealed this […]

Chinelo Okparanta’s Under The Udala Trees Named Among the 25 Most Impactful LGBTQ Works of the Last 20 Years

chinelo okparanta

Chinelo Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees has been listed as one of the 25 most impactful works of LGBTQ literature […]

Babishai Poetry Festival 2017 | Interview with Mugabi Byenkya, Author of Dear Philomena

BABISHAI 2017 FLYER PURPLE

As part of the countdown to the 2017 Babishai Poetry Festival in Uganda, the organisers are conducting a series of interviews […]

Teju Cole Releases Fourth Book Blind Spot | Read An Excerpt

teju cole--blind spot

Teju Cole does not repeat himself, which is why his new book, Blind Spot, published two weeks ago, is something unprecedented for […]