Just read the first line of this story out loud and listen for the jazz in the variety of names that Bulawayo uses: “We are on our way to Budapest: Bastard and Chipo and Godknows and Sbho and Stina and me.” Darling, the child protagonist of this story, and her aforementioned friends are struggling to survive in a desolate land. Innovative in its language and tone— the characters of this Caine Prize-winning story leap from the page in prose that walks a tightrope between comedy and tragedy. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing the author read from this story on several occasions, perhaps most memorably at a sold-out reading in San Francisco where Bulawayo and I began our conversation about this story (which would ultimately become the first chapter in the novel We Need New Names) with music and dancing.
First published in The Boston Review, November 2010 and incorporated into We Need New Names, Chatto & Windus, 2013. Read it online here