Noviolet Bulawayo. Author of We Need New Names. Zimbabwe

Noviolet Bulawayo. Author of We Need New Names. Zimbabwe

NoViolet Bulawayo is a Zimbabwean author and Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her debut novel We Need New Names was released in 2013 and was included in the 2013 Man Booker Prize shortlist.  This made her the first black African woman and the first Zimbabwean to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. It also won the Etisalat Prize for Literature and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award among other accolades. She has begun work on a memoir project. She talked to Writivism’s Rebecca Rwakabukoza about her involvement with the continental project and her debut novel.

RR: What is your inspiration for being on the Board Of Trustees for Writivism?

NB: It seems a fitting time to quote Dr. Maya Angelou who said, “When you get, give. When you learn, teach.” This is an opportunity that allows me to share and collaborate and inspire along with like-minded people who are working hard to take writing and reading on the continent to the next level.

RR: What are your hopes for organisations like Writivism and its annual Festival?

NB: Writivism is already doing exciting things: workshops, mentorships, a festival, an anthology, a couple of writers shortlisted for the Caine Prize, fellowships, alternative publishing spaces for writers and, most importantly, writers and readers from different spaces being in conversation with each other. This is very encouraging and I hope to see the young organisation grow. All these efforts foster a fresh reading and writing culture that helps to inspire and shape the future of African literature.

RR: You published We Need New Names with an American-based publishing house. What are your thoughts on accessibility to publishing for Africa-based authors and how that affects their being read?

NB: We’re all aware that publishing opportunities are slim, though of course dynamics vary from country to country. This simply means we do not realise our full potential, whether we are talking about who is published, what readers read, if they read and the type of stories being told. However way we look at it, it is our loss, especially considering that we have so many stories to tell.

RR: What has the fame/success of We Need New Names felt like for you? Did you expect it to be that successful or do you still feel like you’re in some kind of dream?

NB: Ha, I think you need at least a few strong novels under your belt to be called a successful writer, but I’ll say that We Need New Names is a lucky book and has taken me by surprise, perhaps because I had no expectations. All I wanted was to write a book and I didn’t worry much about what would happen to it, where it would go. And I will always want this, really, to just write.

**************************

This interview is the first in a series showcasing new African writers, names you’ve probably never heard of.  Noviolet Bulawayo is certainly not a new writer, but she is kicking off the series because of her outstanding work with the Writivism project. Check back every Friday for a new interview. Thanks to the folks at Writivism for conducting the interviews and choosing to share it on our platform. 

Image: The 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.

9 Responses to “N. Bulawayo on Literary Success, Giving Back, and Writivism | Interviewed by Rebecca Rwakabukoza” Subscribe

  1. Catherine Onyemelukwe 2014/09/12 at 08:34 #

    Thank you for posting this interview with NoViolet Bulawayo. She is exercising her talents well. I will post this in my blog catherineonyemelukwe.com on Sunday. I loved her book.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. New Yam Festival, Ebola, An Essay and a BookCatherine Onyemelukwe | Catherine Onyemelukwe - 2014/09/14

    […] loved reading this interview with the author NoViolet Bulawayo from Brittle […]

  2. On Interview: Noviolet Bulawayo by Rebecca Rwakabukoza « 234stories MAGAZINE - 2014/09/18

    […] CONTINUE READING Click here to cancel reply. […]

  3. Ellen Banda on Writing Children’s Fiction | Interviewed by Caleb Adebayo | Brittle Paper - 2014/09/19

    […] interview is the second in a series showcasing new African writers where African writers share their story as writers.  Check back every Friday for a new […]

  4. Kelechi Njoku on Nigerian Reading Culture | Interviewed by Sydney Mugerwa | Brittle Paper - 2014/10/03

    […] interview is the thrid in a series showcasing new African writers where African writers share their story as writers.  Check back every Friday for a new […]

  5. Meet Ngasa Wise, the Writer-Activist-Social-Entrepreneur! | Interviewed by Sydney Mugerwa | Brittle Paper - 2014/10/10

    […] interview is the fourth in a series showcasing new African writers. It’s a platform for these writers to share their story and reflect not just on their work […]

  6. Tosin Kolawole is Inspired By Anything and Everything | Interviewed by Caleb Adebayo | Brittle Paper - 2014/10/17

    […] interview is the fifth in a series showcasing new African writers. It’s a platform for these writers to share their story and reflect not just on their work […]

  7. Caine Prize Shortlistee, Efemia Chela, Speaks on Writivism and Mentorship | Interviewed by Caleb Adebayo | Brittle Paper - 2014/10/31

    […] interview is the sixth in a series showcasing new African writers. It’s a platform for these writers to share their story and reflect not just on their work […]

  8. Okwiri’s Critique of Our Stories Was Invaluable | Sydney Mugerwa on Writivism Mentorship | Brittle Paper - 2014/11/14

    […] piece is the seventh and the last in a series showcasing new African writers. It’s a platform for these writers to share their story and reflect not just on their work […]

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

The Night My Dead Girlfriend Called | Episode 4: Confronting the ‘Devil’ | by Feyisayo Anjorin

tnmdgc-header

The only thing of iron, plastic, or leather-padding matter in the well-lit shrine of Pa Fakunle was the treadmill for […]

Apes and Satellites | by Mame Bougouma Diene | African Sci-fi

untitled-design29

The ChinaCorp mining-satellite shifted across the planetary terminator, separating from its twin in stationary orbit over the Eastern Chinese Republic’s […]

Is the Ake Festival a Bubble? | Okechukwu Ofili Calls for a Reality Check

untitled-design28

The Ake Arts and Book Festival is an amazing event. It assembles some of the best minds in literature and […]

Zadie Smith and Namwali Serpell on Femininity and Writing

zadie-3

Zadie Smith has an uncommon ability to tell stories that capture our hearts. But she’s also shown herself to be […]

My Feminism | Remembering to Scream | By Wana Udobang

untitled-design27

I don’t remember the first time my father hit my mother. But I often remember my brother’s hands muzzling my […]

Greg Ruth Does Something Amazing with Okorafor’s Female Characters

untitled-design-60

Nnedi Okorafor’s novels are universally loved. She builds her fictional worlds and fashions her characters from the most unusual elements. […]