May 21, 2013 - 7:00 PM
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“I knew this writer was going to blow up” Junot Diaz
Litquake is thrilled to introduce Zimbabwean debut novelist NoViolet Bulawayo at May’s Epicenter. Bulawayo’s novel, We Need New Names is one of the most highly anticipated launches of the year. She’ll be in conversation with Sarah Ladipo Manyika, who is the author of In Dependence and teaches literature at San Francisco State University..
We Need New Names focuses on Darling, only ten years old but navigating 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 of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by soldiers, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.
But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America’s famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few.
This time the NGO people are late; they were supposed to come on the fifteenth of last month and that month came and went and now we are on another month. We have already cleared the playground because it’s where the lorry will stop. Finally, it arrives, churning dust, like an angry monster. Now we are singing and screaming like we are proper mad. We bare our teeth and thrust our arms upward. We tear the ground with our feet. We squint in the dust and watch the doors of the lorry, waiting for the NGO people to come out, but we don’t stop singing and dancing. We know that if we do it hard, they will be impressed, maybe they will give us more, give and give until we say, NGO, please do not kill us with your gifts!
—From We Need New Names
About the Authors
NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut calls to mind the greatstorytellers of displacement and arrival who have come before her—from Junot Diaz to Zadie Smith to J.M. Coetzee—while she tells a vivid, raw story all her own.Bulawayo is the winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, is a current Stegner Fellow at Stanford, and is working on her next novel. Parts of We Need New Names were excerpted in the March 2013 issue of Granta.
Sarah Ladipo Manyika was raised in Nigeria and has lived in Kenya, France, and England. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and currently teaches literature at San Francisco State University. Her writing includes essays, academic papers, reviews and short stories. Sarah’s first novel, In Dependence, is published by Legend Press (London) and Cassava Republic Press (Abuja).
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