“For me it’s important that whoever starts reading my work doesn’t put it down. Laughter carries you through and I have to connect to the reader. Humour allows me to do that.”- NoViolet BulawayoBorn Elizabeth Zandile Tshele, on 12th October, 1981 in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North (Zimbabwe). Bulawayo attended Njube High School and later Mzilikazi High School for her A-levels. When she was 18, she moved to Kalamazoo, Southern Michigan (United States) to live with her aunt; where she completed her college education in 2003 at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. She later earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Texas A&M University-Commerce and Southern Methodist University respectively (both located at (Texas, U.S.A.) In 2010, she completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Cornell University. In 2011, Bulawayo won the Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story "Hitting Budapest" about a gang of street children in a Zimbabwean shantytown. In 2013, her debut novel entitled “We Need New Names” was published (May 21st) to rave reviews; and it was included in the 2013 Man Booker Prize shortlist, which made her the first Zimbabwean to be shortlisted for the Prize. DID YOU KNOW …
- Her pen-name NoViolet Bulawayo are homage to her mother (who died when she was 18 months old) and her hometown. NoViolet is her mother’s name, which means "with Violet"; and Bulawayo, which is Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, is her hometown.
- She adopted the pen-name, NoViolet Bulawayo, when she was at university.
- Bulawayo's father Noel Tshele, was a police officer.
- She went to the US to study law.
- Bulawayo was among the 2013 National Book Award's "5 Under 35" (5 authours under the age of 35). She was selected by Pulitzer Winning writer, Junot Díaz.
- Her 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing short story "Hitting Budapest" was the first chapter of her 2013 Man Booker Prize shortlisted debut novel – “We Need New Names”
- She became the first black African woman to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
- “We Need New Names” was also shortlisted for the 2013 Guardian First Book award. At 31, Bulawayo was the youngest contender.
- Besides writing, Bulawayo is also aspiring to be a filmmaker, noting that – ‘I also have an interest in film so I’m taking film classes”.
- Her biggest literary inspiration is the late Zimbabwean award-winning author, Yvonne Vera, because more than any other writer …“I care about the same things she cares about; from the poetic grace of language to (feminist) themes to the writer’s spirit of courage, that bravery to say things that would not normally be said. If she wasn’t in the picture I don’t think I’d have the courage to write about things I’m writing about.”
- “We Need New Names” was also selected by Oprah Winfrey as one of "Nine Must-Read Books for June 2013”.
- She worked on “We Need New Names” for four years.
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