I have bitten the bullet and am now listening to books off my reading list. I’m on the road about an hour to and from work so why not? Plus, several of the books on my reading list are available through my local library, so again why not? I even plan to get a Kindle one of these days in order to download the library e-Books too. I can’t seem to read too comfortably on my iPhone nor iPad, neither of which has the Retina Display. Yeah, they are that old. Oh how things change.
We Need New Names is the first of my audiobooks and I was utterly pleased by the rendition. I am most definitely a visual learner and listening to a book is definitely different from reading a book but I was whole-heartedly entertained by the experience and now I’m a convert…at least for free books!
We Need New Names tells the story of Darling, a Zimbabwean girl, living at first in Paradise, a shantytown in Zimbabwe where she spends her time with her friends stealing guavas from the well-manicured proper neighbourhoods and playing games such as “finding bin Laden”, and then later living in the state of Michigan, USA as a teenager where she comes to terms with the realities that the streets of America are not paved with gold as she once imagined. No, the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.
It is the debut novel of NoViolet Bulawayo the pen-name of a young Zimbabwean woman, Elizabeth Zandile Tshele, and is set during the Lost Decade of traumatized Zimbabwe when the country turned on its citizens and its economy crumbled. The novel was short listed for the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2013.
I found the story, like many other American immigrant stories, resonating. It was alive, poetic, charming, and witty. It was also very sad and heart-wrenching, especially since I’ve been cognizant of what has been going on in Zimbabwe – expulsion of white Zimbabwean farmers, political violence against supporters of Tsvangirai and Change, and the stolen 2008 elections.