Happy Birthday, NoViolet Bulawayo, born 12 October 1981
- When things fall apart, the children of the land scurry and scatter like birds escaping a burning sky.
- Because we were not in our country, we could not use our own languages, and so when we spoke our voices came out bruised. When we talked, our tongues thrashed madly in our mouths, staggered like drunken men. Because we were not using our languages we said things we did not mean; what we really wanted to say remained folded inside, trapped. In America we did not always have the words. It was only when we were by ourselves that we spoke in our real voices. When we were alone we summoned the horses of our languages and mounted their backs and galloped past skyscrapers.
- It’s your story: act like it and write it on your own terms.
- I didn’t know then that I’d eventually live for writing, because growing up I never saw writers around me, and anyway, we were raised to pursue ‘traditional, sensible careers’. Writing wasn’t one of them.
- I write what I want, of course, what moves me, but because I engage in real issues, I end up depicting ‘real lives’ and ‘real stories’ even though that’s not always necessarily what I set out to do.
- Look at the children of the land leaving in droves, leaving their own land with bleeding wounds on their bodies and shock on their faces and blood in their hearts and hunger in their stomachs and grief in their footsteps. Leaving their mothers and fathers and children behind, leaving their umbilical cords underneath the soil, leaving the bones of their ancestors in the earth, leaving everything that makes them who and what they are, leaving because it is no longer possible to stay. They will never be the same again because you cannot be the same once you leave behind who and what you are, you just cannot be the same.
NoViolet Bulawayo is a Zimbabwean author. Her first novel, We Need New Names was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story Hitting Budapest.
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