Alert! NoViolet Bulawayo has been included on the American National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35″ for her debut novel, We Need New Names, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. The programme honours five young fiction writers who are selected by past National Book Award winners and finalists. Bulawayo was selected by Dominican-American writer Junot Díaz, who was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2008 for This Is How You Lose Her.
For the first time in the eight years that it has been running, the five authors selected are all women. Bulawayo is joined by Molly Antopol (The UnAmericans), Amanda Coplin (The Orchardist), Daisy Hildyard (Hunters in the Snow) and Merritt Tierce (Love Me Back). The authors will be honoured at a party in Brooklyn, New York on November 18th, hosted by Portlandia creator, writer and star Carrie Brownstein.
Author Claire Vaye Watkins interviewed Bulawayo about the process of writing and publishing We Need New Names and Bulawayo shared her writing playlist. The playlist includes Brenda Fassie’s “Vulindlela”, which Bulawayo says is one of the most danced to songs in her studio. Brittle Paper collected music videos for all the songs on Bulawayo’s playlist.
Read Watkins’ interview with Bulawayo:
Claire Vaye Watkins: Can you tell me your book’s artistic origin story? What image/story/phrase/character/etc. did you start with? How long did it take to write? What was the research, composition, and revision process like? What most shocked, confused or surprised you about that process? NoViolet Bulawayo: We Need New Names was inspired by Zimbabwe’s lost decade, especially the years from 2005-9, when the country came undone due to failure of leadership. I remember there were many haunting stories, characters, images, from the ground that figured in the making of the story, but what really got me was this image of a kid sitting on the remains of his bulldozed home—I just couldn’t get him out of my head. It took at least three years to write Names, with enough misses of course, as I did not always know what I was doing, or where it was going.