NOVIOLET BULAWAYO, a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, has been shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for her first novel, We Need New Names.
The Booker Prize honors novels by citizens of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth nations or the Republic of Ireland.
Bulawayo, who was born and raised in Zimbabwe, is the first writer from Zimbabwe to be a Booker finalist and the only debut novelist on this year’s list.
Published in 2013 by Reagan Arthur Books, We Need New Names tells the story of Darling, a young girl who leaves behind the chaotic shantytown of her Zimbabwean childhood and immigrates to Michigan. In America, however, Darling finds that life for a young immigrant with limited opportunities is far from perfect.
Bulawayo completed the novel during her first year on a Stegner Fellowship, which provides support for two years at Stanford to fiction writers and poets.
“To get on to the short list of the Man Booker award is an immense achievement,” said EAVAN BOLAND, who directs Stanford’s Creative Writing Program.
“But of course the real achievement here isn’t the nomination. It’s the beautiful, haunting story in We Need New Names of a young girl moving between Africa and the U.S., facing the complications of both lives with such courage and such honesty. It’s a powerful and memorable novel,” Boland added.
Before coming to Stanford, Bulawayo earned her MFA at Cornell University, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. She is the author of the short stories Hitting Budapest (2010), which won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing, and Snapshots (2009), shortlisted for the South Africa PEN Studzinsi Award. Earlier this year, she was one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35″ honorees for We Need New Names.
Given since 1969, the Man Booker Prize has gone to such literary luminaries as SALMAN RUSHDIE for Midnight’s Children, IAN MCEWAN for Amsterdam, and KAZUO ISHIGURO for The Remains of the Day.
Chosen from a shortlist of just six novels, the 2013 winner will be announced Oct. 15.
— BY VERONICA MARIAN, The Humanities at Stanford