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Prize-winning Zimbabwean Author to Read, Teach at Georgetown

NoViolet Bulawayo

NoViolet Bulawayo, the 2011 Caine Prize winner, received the African writing award for her short story, “Hitting Budapest.”

February 10, 2012 – Writer NoViolet Bulawayo, the 2011 Caine Prize winner, will begin a residency on campus Feb. 13-17 that includes workshops with students and a reading of her latest work.

Bulawayo won the Caine Prize for “Hitting Budapest,” a short story set in her native Zimbabwe about a group of hungry children from a poverty-stricken shantytown called Paradise.

The children venture into the affluent area of Budapest in search of guavas and end up on a journey where questions of morality, as well as the morality of those around them, surface.

Moral Engagement

“As you look at [Bulawayo’s] writing, you really do see a fierce and passionate moral engagement with the world – it’s sense of disregard to chaos and to violence,” says Georgetown English professor David Gewanter, who served as a judge for this year’s Caine Prize.

The prestigious literary Caine Prize has been awarded for the past 11 years to an outstanding African writer, who receives $16,000 and residency at Georgetown.

“Hitting Budapest emerged from this space of wanting to engage with a list of issues that move me as a person and as an artist,” Bulawayo says. “Humanity and lack of it, innocence and loss of it, violence [and] the collision of two different worlds. [I] … really [wanted to] just tell the story of these kids who are struggling to survive in a world that has screwed them up.”

Learning and Inspiring

While at Georgetown, Bulawayo will visit classes in the English department and work with students on creative writing.

Georgetown’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice is sponsoring her seminar and reading from the book-length manuscript she recently completed, We Need New Names.

The reading takes place at 8 p.m., Feb. 14 in Copley Formal Lounge.

“[I’m looking forward to] sharing and learning and inspiring and being inspired,” Bulawayo says.

The young author had just completed her master of fine arts degree at Cornell University before receiving the Caine Prize this past July. She’s now a Truman Capote Fellow and lecturer of English at Cornell.

“I’m fresh out of school, so I have this attachment with schools in general as centers of ideas,” she says.

Celebration of Language

Gewanter’s Intro to Creative Writing class will be among her visits.

“She writes poems, stories and memoirs, so she is bold and moving into many areas,” he says.

Though Bulawayo tends to write about social issues, she’s also greatly enjoys the process of writing.

“It’s not about just storytelling for me, but what language can do,” she says. “So all my work tries to be a celebration of language.”

For more information about reading, visit the Lannan Center’s website.

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