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Title:New names, translational subjectivities: (dis)location and (re)naming in NoViolet Bulawayo's 'We Need New Names'
Author:Moji, Polo Belina
Year:2015
Periodical:Journal of African Cultural Studies (ISSN 1369-6815)
Volume:27
Issue:2
Pages:181-190
Language:English
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:novels
migration
literary criticism
About person:NoViolet Bulawayo pseud. for Elizabeth Zandile TsheleISNI
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2014.993937
Abstract:NoViolet Bulawayo's 'We Need New Names' - shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and winner of the Etisalat Prize for Literature in 2013 - is a novel in which the leitmotif of (re)naming associates the trope of migration to the (dis)location and translation of subjectivities. Based on the premise that the movement of subjects from one social context to another is analogous to the translation of text from one language to another, this paper proposes a transitional mode of subjectification. However, the author argues against reading Darling's journey from Zimbabwean shanty dweller to illegal immigrant in America as a linear progression from an original (located) to a translated (dislocated) subjectivity. The author further argues that the novel goes beyond the idea of 'transparent translation' - a visible layering of a translated subjectivity over a discrete original subjectivity - by privileging their inter-permeability. Semantic and cognitive dissonance are read as textual markers of the psychic (dis)location experienced by displaced subjects. This analysis of Darling's childhood and adolescent subjectivities leads the author to conclude that the novel's leitmotif of (re)naming as a call for a new hermeneutic code through which translational subjectivities can be understood. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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