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Sunday, Oct 24, 2021
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Tell This To The Other Side

Despite its flaws and inconsistencies, a powerful and mov­ing novel

Tell This To The Other Side
Tell This To The Other Side
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Paul Theroux, in his disturbing recent Africa-based novel, The Lower River, portrayed gangs of feral children, American aid wor­kers insulated from their supposed beneficiaries by walls of sun-glasses and air-conditioning, and a dystopian society collapsing under the combined weight of failed government and the aids virus. If Theroux’s is an outside-in view of Africa, Zimbabwe-born NoViolet Bulawayo presents an alternative, inside-out view.

We need New Names is the story of Darling, a feisty 10-year-old girl in the dystopia that is Zimbabwe. She happens to herself be a member of a gang of near-feral children; she has herself lea­rned how to manipulate the sun-glassed and air-conditioned aid workers by pushing their guilt-buttons; her own father is obviously dying of AIDS. The book is a fascinating reversal of the gaze: ‘You really don’t get it, Mr Theroux’, it seems to say. ‘This is how it actually is’. It is an authentic, and unsentimental statement, made all the more powerful beca­use it is narrated by a...

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