NoViolet Bulawayo's 6 favorite books
The award-winning author recommends works by Malcolm X, Gabriel García Márquez, and more
NoViolet Bulawayo's first novel, We Need New Names, was a 2013 Booker Prize finalist. Her new book, Glory, is a satire, inspired by the overthrow of Zimbabwean ruler Robert Mugabe, about a nation of farm animals navigating a political transition.
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton (1939)
Books were so scarce for me growing up in Zimbabwe that when I found this one — probably by stealing — it became a dear favorite, reread throughout my childhood. I reveled in its magic and improbable worlds; envied Joe, Beth, and Frannie their colorful, adventurous lives; and learned how to write working sentences from it. This is one of the books that helped my imagination and love for reading and writing in my early years. Buy it here.
Indaba, My Children by Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa (1964)
Credo Mutwa's extraordinary insights on African philosophy, history, myth, and culture make for essential reading. The storytelling in this rich portrait of the Bantus at once startles and defies categorization. Buy it here.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley (1965)
This searing, resonant book bears witness to American racism through the eyes of a controversial and uncompromising champion of African-American freedom and racial justice. It is righteously angry, devastating, unsettling, and moving, and should make us work for a world in which we are all equal. Buy it here.
Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor (2010)
The stylistic invention in this novel, the gut-punching sentences, the rich attention to detail, the writer's compassion for all those at the bottom — the homeless, the lost, drug addicts, alcoholics — combine to make this a riveting and beautiful book. Every character is intimately drawn and carefully humanized. Buy it here.
Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera (1998)
This unforgettable love story, set in 1940s Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, will wrench your heart — but not before dazzling you with its lyricism, its beautifully rendered characters, the stunning willpower of its protagonist, and a sense of place so alive you can smell the Makokoba air. Buy it here.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967)
García Márquez's magical realist classic, following multiple generations of one family, is a staggering feat of imagination and storytelling. This is the one book I'd want to be stranded with on a desert. Buy it here.
This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.