Early on in NoViolet Bulawayo’s manifoldly clever new novel, Glory, she completely removes the vocabulary of 'people' from the story and the language of its characters, who are all animals ... It is a brilliant, 400-page postcolonial fable charting the downfall of one tyrant—whose counterpart here is an elderly horse—and the rise of a new one ... By taking humans out of the equation, Bulawayo eliminates the hierarchies that their presence would impose. She has succeeded in creating the anti-'Babar' ... This is not Animal Farm. Not its remix, nor its translation. Glory is its own vivid world, drawn from its own folklore ... by aiming the long, piercing gaze of this metaphor at the aftereffects of European imperialism in Africa, Bulawayo is really out-Orwelling Orwell. This is a satire with sharper teeth, angrier, and also very, very funny ... This is also a satire in which female characters are not pushed to the margins, but hold the story together ... In its depiction of transgenerational trauma, of the lineages haunted if not extinguished by the Gukurahundi genocide of the 1980s, the novel bears close literary resemblance to Art Spiegelman’s Maus ... If We Need New Names was a call, then Glory is its answer. They paint a country’s past and its present.
The gulf between the world as it is and the world as it could be is as wide in Bulawayo’s novel as it is outside it. The actions depicted in the book are so familiar, the events so recognizable, the pain so acute, it’s easy to see how Glory began as a work of nonfiction. That the characters are animals — furred, feathered, scaled and all — is almost incidental ... Glory repeats this story almost as it happened. In Bulawayo’s telling, however, Jidada’s deposed autocrat is an elderly stallion long known as Father of the Nation but now derided as Old Horse ... An expected chain of absurdities follows. That is not a knock on Bulawayo’s storytelling gifts, which are prodigious ... This is not a humorless book. The animals are gleeful insulters ... Glory reads longer than its 400 pages. Bulawayo shifts among omniscient narration, first-person plural, oral history and even chapters written as Twitter threads ... Any satire worth its weight in talking animals is really a warning — to the powers that be, the complicit and anyone who thinks nothing so terrible could ever happen to them ... By almost any measure, Glory weighs a ton.
... looks backwards but doesn’t illuminate a new truth. It does, however, illustrate a quandary ... when daily reality surpasses itself in shock, absurdity and tragedy – how can the novel offer political satire? ... The ending is both bloody and saccharine ... the use of animals is awkward and distracting rather than demystifying. The book has a lot of structural scaffolding, which obstructs the reader’s emotional connection to characters. Few writers can engineer a sentence like NoViolet Bulawayo, but if a book’s political and artistic intentions don’t strengthen each other, the novel can’t support the premise.
Inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm and drawing on elements of creaturely folktales, the author’s vigorous satire of political turmoil in her native Zimbabwe is 'peopled' by animals ... Bulawayo finds plenty of trenchant farce and surreal humour in the situation ... When the novel flows it takes a line like 'on the other paw' to remind us that these characters aren’t human in form, which drives home one of Glory’s most vital and universal observations: that in ordinary circumstances, it’s all too easy 'to get used to that which should have otherwise been the source of outrage'. Whether it’s piglets and kittens or men and women who are on the receiving end of outrageous acts, it’s our task to remain indignant, and what better way to signal it than with scornful laughter.
The author deploys a diverse cast of ordinary citizens to map how individual lives have been stunted by the ruling party. She also sets in motion a sub-plot that assumes greater importance as the novel reaches its climax ... At intervals, Bulawayo captures the buzz and occasional bitterness of online exchanges and, in a kind of literary vox pop, briefly enters unnamed characters’ heads, revealing a mixture of hope, apathy and anger at the fate of their homeland ... Glory is a memorable, funny and yet serious allegory about a country’s plight under tyranny and what individual and collective freedom means in an age of virtual worlds and political soundbites.
This coming-of-age tale...features 10-year-old Darling and friends struggling to survive in a Zimbabwean shantytown. They do so with extraordinary resilience and humour; a thread that runs powerfully through ... The language in Glory is just as spellbinding [as Bulawayo's last book], with added stylistic dexterity ... Bulawayo leans into exaggeration and irony to tell hard truths. Glory is jam-packed with comedy and farce, poking fun at an autocratic regime while illustrating the absurdity and surreal nature of a police state ... one doesn’t have to know Zimbabwe to relish this novel. As with all good satire, the specific speaks to the universal; and many of these specifics are instantly recognisable ... Glory is also a fresh and modern take on our relationship to the virtual world and to the novel form itself ... Glory, with a flicker of hope at its end, is allegory, satire and fairytale rolled into one mighty punch.
... brilliant ... By locating her story in a fictional country...Bulawayo trains our eye on the verities of affliction under any repressive regime, while simultaneously highlighting the misery undergone by the people of Zimbabwe ... How to write about genocide with wit? Bulawayo excels ... Throughout, Bulawayo offers elegant, universally relevant, vignettes. We hear ourselves in twitter feeds, in monologues ranging from bitterness to complacency after elections favor the armed, in self-absolving justifications exchanged while waiting in queues ... Bulawayo seizes the bull, why not, by the horns, and cannot be thrown off. Her prose is fertile. Virility and muliebrity sit astride the same saddle and the book reads like a best friend recounting outrageous behaviors and practices in the same 'fire fire' gear that powers the oppressor ... Glory demonstrates what it is impossible to teach: there are no rules.
Glory, peopled with animals rather than humans in a nod to George Orwell's Animal Farm, uses these allegorically potent creatures to explore both Zimbabwe's particular history ... To be clear, the novel doesn't explain away their actions, but it does contextualize them by exploring their histories ... In one of the most stirring threads of the novel, which weaves in and out of the political drama, a goat named Destiny returns to Jidada after the regime change, to her hometown of Lozikeyi ... Throughout, Bulawayo's narrative voices are exquisite in their modulation, sometimes drawing out a sentence with repeated phrases or in a particular cadence reminiscent of a chant, and at others using conversational asides or social media posts to convey the strong and varied opinions of Jidada's population. She brings in humor and joy, too, despite the novel's potently serious subject matters, reflecting the reality of human nature ... glorious in its power.
[A] variation on George Orwell’s Animal Farm with a surging power of its own ... With ingenuity and skill, Bulawayo masterfully controls her story, switching among plotlines, voices and themes, and between past and present, with history never forgotten ... Absurdity and irony abound, providing entertainment and wincing recognition that this book has a lot to say about our own political reality ... On Bulawayo’s animal farm, citizens are powerful, and stories will raise the dead.
Zimbabwean novelist NoViolet Bulawayo draws on Orwell in her ambitious, meandering Glory, which charts the downfall of a dictator, modeled on Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, whose brutal 30-year reign ended abruptly in a 2017 coup. Freedom from tyranny, she suggests, comes at a high cost ... Glory is both trenchant and wearying, broken up with subheads and bits of dialogue. There are moving scenes, as when she depicts the history of the Jidadans ... These moments are windows through which we glimpse the hidden agonies inflicted on Zimbabwe, but the book is simply longer than it needs to be ... Still, Bulawayo is an innovative stylist — she collapses genres, subverts expectations and cuts to the marrow of the continent's politics — and is a vital voice in an emerging generation of post-colonial African writers.
NoViolet Bulawayo’s brilliant debut novel, We Need New Names, was suffused with the nostalgia of the emigrant. Her equally impressive second novel is saturated with the anger of the exile ... Indeed, while most of the absurdity and surrealism hints at the irrepressible wit and resilience of Zimbabweans and allows the reader to revel in Bulawayo’s imaginative brio, some of the brutality and violence of post-independence Zimbabwe causes the fable-mode to falter ... writing in beast-fable mode taps into the deep roots of African story-telling and allows Bulawayo to 'channel' the oral tradition of her grandmother’s 'beguiling tales of talking animals and alternate worlds.' Numerous stylistic devices lend an almost incantatory drive to the narrative.
At 400 pages, Glory is also more than triple the length of Animal Farm and much more ambitious, rife with themes of sorcery and the supernatural, tribalism, and the subjugation of women ... While Bulawayo’s peppering of the text with non-English words — such as 'tholukuthi,' a Zulu word used for emphasis — might prove distracting to some readers, one doesn’t need to know their literal translation to follow the book’s trajectory. Even more accessible is the humor she manages to find amid the darkness, usually used to mock the animals in charge ... Ultimately, despite the crushing of every act of resistance and a final, poignant tragedy, Bulawayo imagines a better life for her characters. One can only hope it will manifest for real Zimbabweans, as it is long overdue. Imaginative, sweeping, hard-hitting, eye-opening, and unabashedly political, Glory is an important read.
Playing with language — hacking it to make it fit for purpose — is the key to unlocking the literary metaverse of Glory, which is all about personalising a very public story ... Playfulness is Bulawayo’s stock-in-trade and it’s inescapably funny that the animals in Glory are contemporary human-style beings. Here are dogs, horses, cats and birds who text, watch Al Jazeera and get their nails done ... Bulawayo’s dense, mischievous fable is ultimately optimistic. Funny ha ha and peculiar, it delivers, over the course of 400 pages of wordplay and animal magic, a surprisingly warm, intimate and, yes, human feeling.
Bulawayo has found a clever if familiar way to tell the story of a fictional African country and the fall of its leader: Clearly inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the population consists entirely of animals ... Glory is an allegory for the modern age, with references to contemporary world politics, chapters written as a series of tweets, and animals checking social media for updates on fast-changing developments ... readers will also note the influence of works by Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, especially in Bulawayo’s extravagant storytelling and critique of colonialism ... As this wise, albeit occasionally repetitive, book makes clear, that’s a cautionary message all countries should heed.
From the award-winning author of We Need New Names (2013), Glory centers on a fictional country, Jidada, inhabited and ruled by anthropomorphic animals ... Will the downtrodden citizen-animals of Jidada have the strength and resilience to seize a new opportunity to create equity and freedom for all? Bulawayo’s second novel mirrors events in Zimbabwe’s history, Robert Mugabe’s decades-long reign, and the colonial and post-colonial influences of the West and China in Africa.
NoViolet Bulawayo’s novel Glory is bound to evoke George Orwell’s Animal Farm for many readers. But this is no reboot. Beyond those broad similarities, Bulawayo’s story is her own ... Bulawayo skillfully deletes humans from the world of Jidada, right down to clever linguistic choices like 'femal,' a portmanteau of 'animal' and 'female' used for animals who would be called women if they were human, and its sly counterpart, 'mal.'
...fierce and playful ... Throughout, Bulawayo keenly displays the perspectives of political players and the civilians who bear the brunt of their violence. With satire that feels necessary and urgent, Bulawayo brings clarity to a murky political morass.
...the characters are so fundamentally human in behavior and action—tweeting, jet-setting, slaughtering—that the setup scarcely qualifies as an allegory. And for a novel of such breadth, its arc is straightforward ... the conclusions feel overly familiar despite its offbeat conceit. A lyrical if rote tale of dominance and resistance.