We Need New Name is the 2013 debut novel of a Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo.
A coming-of-age story, We Need New Names tells of the life of a young girl named Darling. She is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo’s belly, and grasp at memories. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad. This is communicated with a light touch and much drollery.
But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America, where a better future seems about to unfold when she goes to join an aunt working there.
She travels to this new country in search of America’s famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously .
We find out about the life of immigrants: the menial jobs, the obligation to send money home, the impossibility of trips home for the “illegals”, their children, who grow up to be distant and dump their parents in nursing homes.
Bulawayo has created a debut that is poignant and moving but which also glows with humanity and humour.