NoViolet Bulawayo
NoViolet Bulawayo.jpg
BornElizabeth Zandile Tshele
(1981-12-10)December 10, 1981
EducationMzilikazi High School
Alma materCornell University, USA
Known forFirst black African woman and the first Zimbabwean to be shortlisted for 2013 Man Book Prize for Fiction
  • Violet Tshele (mother)

NoViolet Bulawayo is a Zimbabwean born author known for her debut award winning novel We Need New Names. She is the first black African woman and the first Zimbabwean to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.


She was born Elizabeth Zandile Tshele in Zimbabwe's Tsholotsho District on 10 December 1981. At the age of 18 months, Bulawayo lost her mother. As a consequence, she grew up with the sense of something missing. Her mother’s name was Violet. In college, the writer decided to adopt the pen name NoViolet Bulawayo as a way of honoring her mother and identifying with her. ‘No’ means ‘with’ in the southern African language – Ndebele. Bulawayo is the city of her people and where she grew up.[1] Her mother Violet passed away when she was 18 months old.[2]

She attended Mzilikazi Secondary School.

NoViolet moved to Michigan, USA when she was 18.[3]

In an interview she said the name NoViolet Bulawayo is a combination of her mother's name and the place she was born. She said:

It's from my mother's name, actually. My mother was named Violet. She passed away when I was 18 months old, and she wasn't really spoken about that much. I grew up with a sense of something missing. I decided when I was at a certain age to honor her. "No" in my language means "with." Of course Bulawayo is my city, my hometown. And being in the US for about 13 years without being able to go home made me very homesick. So it was my way of staying connected.



Bulawayo attended Njube High School and later Mzilikazi High School for her A levels. She completed her college education in the US, studying at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and earning bachelor's and master's degrees in English from Texas A&M University-Commerce and Southern Methodist University respectively. In 2010, NoViolet earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Cornell University where she was a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship, and most recently, a lecturer of English. [1] She was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where she now teaches as a Jones Lecturer in Fiction.


NoViolet’s writing has been recognized all over the world. Her debut novel – We Need New Names – was released in 2013. Others include Snapshots, published in New Writing from Africa 2009 and Hitting Budapest, published in The Boston Review and was awarded the Caine Prize for African Writing 2011. Currently, she is working on a collection of AIDS stories. This is motivated by the fact that she lost her brother to AIDS whilst she was 14 years old and later on lost her sister to the same disease. In fact, she has lost more than 20 people close to her to AIDS.

She has made the 2022 Booker Prize longlist for her novel, Glory. She is one of the 13 authors whose winning could have the author bag a prize of GBP50,000 (USD60,000). The winner will be announced on 17 October 2022 at a ceremony in London.[4]


  • We Need New Names (2013)
  • Glory (2022)

Short Stories

  • Happy Birthday Africa President (2014)
  • The Return (2013)
  • Diaspora Christmas (2011)
  • The City: Bulawayo (2011)
  • Hitting Budapest (2010)
  • The Watcher (2009)

Awards & Achievements

Bulawayo has received many awards and honors. In 2010, she was awarded a graduate level fellowship by Truman Capote Literary Trust to promote creative writing. In 2011, her short story Hitting Budapest received the Caine Prize for African Writing, which is an annual literary award for the best original short story by an African writer. Her other prize-winning creations include We Need New Names, telling the life of a young girl named Darling, first as ten-year old in Zimbabwe and later as a teenager in the Midwest United States.

  • Winner of the 2014 PEN / Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction
  • Winner of the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction
  • Shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize
  • Winner of the 2014 Zora Neale Hurston/ Richard Wright Legacy Award for fiction
  • Winner of the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature
  • Finalist for the 2013 Guardian First Book Award
  • One of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year for 2013
  • One of National Public Radio's Great Reads of 2013

World Records

Her novel We Need New Names was included in the 2013 Man Book Prize for Fiction – a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel, written in the English language and published in the UK. This made her the first black African woman and the first Zimbabwean to be shortlisted for the award.[5]



  1. 1.0 1.1 NoViolet Bulawayo, Book Browse, published: August 31, 2013, retrieved: April 20, 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sabine Peschel, Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo: 'I like to write from the bone', DW, published: July 15, 2015, retrieved: April 20, 2017
  3. 3.0 3.1 NoViolet Bulawayo, Foyles, published: No Date Given, retrieved: April 20, 2017
  4. [1], 3-mob, Published: 27 July, 2022, Accessed: 28 July, 2022
  5. Vincent Odwako Anyanje, [2], Culture Trip, Published: 5 January, 2017, Accessed: 4 August, 2020