Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Noviolet Bulawayo and Father

I always wondered what my pops, who is 74, thought about my writing coz we’ve never addressed it like that. I mean we talk on the phone and trip and laugh and gossip and I get schooled and scolded if its relevant, and he tells me stories etc, but zip nada about my writing.

Even as I presented him with an autographed hard copy of We Need New Names, alongside books by Colum McCann and Manuel Munoz on my visit home about a week ago, he acted like it wasn’t there. No pat on the back, no comment or acknowledgement besides a grunt.

If I didn’t know him I would have been shattered, but then I do; he’s my pops after all—the unsentimental man who rarely dished straight-up praise to us when we were growing up. I’d do well in school for example and he’d express his happiness to an uncle or something but never directly to me. Weird dude!

But back to the story… I don’t need to wonder much now, about how he feels I mean. Because I saw, under my pop’s worn pillow, a newspaper with an article plus an interview I’d done back when I won the Caine Prize a couple of years ago; I’m told he sometimes sleeps with the aging thing under his pillow, an action that to me is worth more than a million conversations.

I was deeply, deeply moved, but instead of expressing how I felt, I too put on a cloak of silence because there were no words. No, no words for my beautiful, complex pops who will say a lot about many things and absolutely nothing about certain ones.

Bulawayo is the 12th winner of the Caine Prize for Fiction. Her debut novel We Need New Names is currently getting massive amounts of love from critics. This piece was originally published on her blog: NoViolet Blogs

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.

One Response to ““Because There Are No Words”: Noviolet Bulawayo on Her Father’s Silence About Her Writing” Subscribe

  1. Radical June 17, 2013 at 7:11 am #

    Like most African men. Actions speak instead of words.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

15 Pieces to Guide Your Understanding of Xenophobia in (South) Africa

xenophobia in south africa - photo by guillerme sartori for agence france press and getty images

Once again, this September, xenophobic violence was unleashed on other Africans, mostly Nigerians, in South Africa: businesses were closed, shops […]

Johary Ravaloson’s Return to the Enchanted Island Is the Second Novel from Madagascar to Be Translated into English

johary ravaloson - winds from elsewhere - graph (1)

In May 2018, we brought news of the first novel by a writer from Madagascar to be translated into English: […]

Sundays at Saint Steven’s | Davina Philomena Kawuma | Poetry

unsplash3

when god runs out of money (how, no one says) once a week, these days, we come to where the […]

Read the First Excerpt from Petina Gappah’s New Novel, Out of Darkness, Shining Light

petina gappah - out of darkness, shining light - graph

Petina Gappah‘s new novel Out of Darkness, Shining Light was released on 10 September by Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner. […]

We Need To Talk | Muriel Adhiambo | Fiction

unsplash4

IT WAS A warm, humid night in the lakeside city of Kisumu. Under a starless sky, the women, seated on […]

For World Diabetes Day, Miss BloodSugar Calls for Entries to Competition & Anthology Sponsored by Bella Naija

mbs final edit

Press release: What’s your diabetes story? Are you diabetic? Have you been impacted by the experiences of a family/friend/patient with […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.