We Need New Names: A Novel

Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

8 of 9
We Need New Names: A Novel
304 pages; Reagan Arthur Books
Fans of Junot Díaz, who, as fiction editor of Boston Review, published NoViolet Bulawayo's early work, will love her debut novel, We Need New Names (Reagan Arthur). Ten-year-old Darling goes from stealing guavas—and the shoes off a corpse—in Mugabe-battered Zimbabwe to Michigan, where the winter cold "makes like it wants to kill you" and isolation born of displacement threatens to devour her. Bulawayo's use of contemporary culture (the kids play a game in which they hunt for bin Laden and, later, text like their lives depend on it), as well as her fearless defense of the immigrant experience through honoring the cadence of spoken language, sets this book apart—on the top shelf.
— Kristy Davis