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Reading with NoViolet Bulawayo & Miriam Mandelkow

Internationaler Literaturpreis 2015 | Long Night of the Shortlist and Award Ceremony 2015
Wed, Jul 8, 2015

Wir brauchen neue Namen
NoViolet Bulawayo | Miriam Mandelkow
NoViolet Bulawayo: Wir brauchen neue Namen
Translated from the English by Miriam Mandelkow | We Need New Names
Suhrkamp Verlag 2014 | Little, Brown and Company, New York 2013

“NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut novel tells of a coming of age after migration to another country. Poverty, violence and neglect are everyday, fundamental constants of a slum childhood in Zimbabwe. The only thing filled with life is a young girl’s own cosmos, created out of friendship and the bright colours of a child’s imagination, but the young protagonist loses all of this after her emigration to the United States. Speechless homesickness and alienation become parts of her new identity, in some passages commented by an almost lyrical, internal narrative voice. In the German translation by Miriam Mandelkow the creative, childlike voice that shapes the linguistic tone of the scenic novel still sparkles, at the same time painful and beautiful.” (The jury on the shortlist nomination 2015)

Paradise is the name of a tin shack settlement in an unnamed city in Zimbabwe where ten-year-old Darling grows up. Although a shambles, it is still a home for Darling albeit with no father, no school, a place of hunger, disease, the threat of bulldozers and violence. Darling and a gang of kids wander the wealthy neighbourhood, steal guavas, invent football matches between nations and let aid workers give them toys in this inhospitable children’s paradise. When, at thirteen, Darling moves to Detroit to live with her aunt, the longed-for America turns out not to be the Promised Land. Darling transforms herself into an American, peeping at porn with her schoolmates in the afternoon in the basement, gets to know the snow and cold and misses the African sky and the guavas. The debut novel by NoViolet Bulawayo sends a girl from an African slum into the cold of Detroit. The author from Zimbabwe tells unsentimentally of harsh realities, big dreams and complex identities.