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text 2017-04-10 00:11
Authorial Encounters: NoViolet Bulawayo
We Need New Names: A Novel - NoViolet Bulawayo

   NoViolet Bulawayo recently appeared in my city. (I took this picture on my iPod.)

 

She read, of course, from "We Need New Names," and I learned something very important about the book: How the main character's name sounds. Of course, if you've read the book, you know her name is Darling. To my Midwestern ears, that's a distinctly two-syllable word, with the accent on the first syllable, a true trochee, in poetic terms. "Dar," like car; "ling," like swing. I suppose if you live in other parts of the country, you might say it differently: "dah-ling," "darlin'," etc.

 

For Ms. Bulawayo, who still carries a strong accent of her native Zimbabwe, Darling's name is almost a spondee. She gives a little bit less stress to the first syllable, so technically, it's an iamb, but both syllables get quite a bit of stress. And to my ears, it sounded very close to the name "Darlene." I heard "Dar-LING." So now I know. 

 

Her reading was beautiful. The book was fascinating. And she answered my question in the q&a! Can't wait for more from her.

 

-cg

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