We Need New Names- NoViolet Bullawayo

Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge (via netgalley) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

‘To play the country-game, we have to choose a country. Everybody wants to be the USA and Britain and Canada and Australia and Switzerland and them. Nobody wants to be rags of countries like Congo, like Somalia, like Iraq, like Sudan, like Haiti and not even this one we live in – who wants to be a terrible place of hunger and things falling apart?’

Darling and her friends live in a shanty called Paradise, which of course is no such thing. It isn’t all bad, though. There’s mischief and adventure, games of Find bin Laden, stealing guavas, singing Lady Gaga at the tops of their voices.

They dream of the paradises of America, Dubai, Europe, where Madonna and Barack Obama and David Beckham live. For Darling, that dream will come true. But, like the thousands of people all over the world trying to forge new lives far from home, Darling finds this new paradise brings its own set of challenges – for her and also for those she’s left behind.


I don’t really know what to say about this book. I’ve been putting off writing my review, and now I’m even more clueless.

It wasn’t a bad book, it was just a bit…meh. There were good bits, but as soon as something started getting interesting the story changed. The time kept leaping so the story didn’t seem seemless. I got a fairly decent idea of what it was like for Darling in her country, but we didn’t seem to actually see much of why it was so bad, apart from being a shanty town.

Again with the American section it felt not quite detailed enough. I got a sense of what it might be like to be an immigrant- maybe more so than someone who lived in a shanty town. However there was just too much information too quickly. We didn’t see how Darling settled in really, or how she got on with different challenges- we just knew they existed. Plus there were bits that seemed even just to be normal teenage issues. Which, yes, Darling would have experienced, but maybe we could have seen a bit of what was more unique about growing up as an immigrant in America if those ‘normal’ teenage sections were taken out.

It had a lot of potential, and I really enjoyed some sections. However I would have liked more detail, any event or thought seemed too quick. It never felt exactly complete.


Buy it:

Kindle (£4.49)

Paperback- pre-order (£7.16)

Hardback (£10.34)

Other Reviews:

As the Crowe Flies (and reads!)

Word by Word

The Relentless Reader


Filed under Contempory, Fiction review

3 responses to “We Need New Names- NoViolet Bullawayo

  1. I also thought this book was a bit meh. I enjoyed the first part of it, the language and pacing of it felt different and exciting. But I felt let down by the second part, nothing much seemed to happen and then all of a sudden Darling was Americanised. A bit disappointing.


  2. I am just starting on the book, and so far nothing great. I hoped it would get more exciting as the book progresses, but looks like that doesn’t happen, huh!


  3. Pingback: Sunday Surfing 19/1/14 | Lucybird's Book Blog

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