‘Even with just her mouth alone she could do serious battle and slay’—Read an exclusive excerpt from NoViolet Bulawayo’s new novel Glory

The JRB presents an exclusive excerpt from Glory, the highly anticipated new novel from NoViolet Bulawayo.

NoViolet Bulawayo
Penguin Random House, 2022

Read the excerpt:


And now, Dr Sweet Mother took her place on the podium and stood looking into the throngs. Tuvy watched the donkey grab the mic as if she meant to chomp it with her pebble teeth, and imagined himself shoving it down her giraffe throat before giving her a kick to send her flying to the other end of the stadium.

‘First of all I cannot, in all good conscience, stand here as a femal, and as your Mother, and as Dr Sweet Mother, and as a Christian, and not address the depravity we just saw from the so-called Sisters of the Disappeared on such a respectable occasion. There is of course the obvious issue of who really wants to see all those jiggly, ugly bodies with sagging teats and white and grey pubes in this broad daylight?!’ the donkey began, punctuating her opening statement with uproarious laughter that was spontaneously picked up by the rest of the square, tholukuthi the sharp howls of mals rising the loudest.

‘So I really must apologise to the Father of the Nation and all the Liberators, the mal elders, the honourable Prophet, our invited dignitaries and guests for what they had to unfortunately witness, though when you have plentiful democracy like we do here in Jidada, sometimes it happens that it gets to the heads of animals as you all saw. And to these pitiful so-called Sisters of the Disappeared, I would like to say, first of all, what wretched backsides did you come out of so that you have the morals of hyenas?! Don’t you know we have innocent young ones in this audience?! What lesson are you trying to teach them?! If you have no interest in respecting your bodies like the Father of the Nation said, then just go to a brothel and be proper itchtails and leave us alone!’ the donkey said, igniting a raucous round of mocking laughter. Tholukuthi the First Femal was getting into proper form; she knew her audience, and her audience knew her.

‘Now, and this is to be honest—you all know I’m all about telling it like it is. Surely isn’t this the kind of behavior that is asking for rape, no?’ the donkey said. The audience went wild.

‘Just mark my words, Jidada, one day, without fail, these very Sisters of whatever will come crying that they’ve been raped during these naked parades. I tell you we’ll all be expected to show sympathy! And Al Jazeera and CNN and BBC and The New York Times and all these so-called rights organisations will be here crying foul! Just because a bunch of misguided femals forgot their place! Shame shame shame!’ the First Femal shrieked.

‘Shame! Shame! Shame!!!’ the square echoed back, as if this were a well-known slogan.

‘Shame indeed! But enough of the itchtails, they’re not who I stood up for. I have more pressing things on my mind today,’ the donkey said, clearing her throat and hinding to her full height, which was no small height, face no longer laughing.

The animals who knew Dr Sweet Mother well—and of course this was most of Jidada—read in that particular clearing of the throat that in fact had absolutely nothing to do with the throat needing to be cleared, and read in her face—now a mass of granite, and in that posture, tholukuthi legs braced wide, tail in the air, chest out and heaving, head high, read in that particular signature phrase, ‘I have more pressing things on my mind today’—an unmistakable declaration of battle. Tholukuthi the donkey may not have fought in the famous and defining Liberation War, but the sticks and stones of Jidada would tell you that even with just her mouth alone she could do serious battle and slay. The foremost question throughout the square then was, ‘Who is getting slain today?’


  • NoViolet Bulawayo grew up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. When she was eighteen, she moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her first novel, We Need New Names, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the Guardian First Book Award and the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, and won a Betty Trask Award, Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, the Etisalat Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction. She has also won the Caine Prize for African Writing and a National Book Award’s ‘5 Under 35’. Bulawayo earned her MFA at Cornell University, and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where she taught fiction. She currently writes full-time, from wherever she finds herself.

Publisher information

‘You thought you were getting a novel as good as We Need New Names, tholukuthi Bulawayo’s second is even more dazzling’—Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Guardian

An effervescent, punchy, piercingly funny novel exploring the fall of Robert Mugabe from Booker-shortlisted Zimbabwean novelist NoViolet Bulawayo.

Glory is an energy burst, an exhilarating ride. A bold, vivid chorus of animal voices calls out the dangerous absurdity of contemporary global politics, and helps us see our human world more clearly.

A long time ago, in a bountiful land not so far away, the animal denizens lived quite happily. Then the colonisers arrived. After nearly a hundred years, a bloody War of Liberation brought new hope for the animals – along with a new leader. A charismatic horse who commanded the sun and ruled and ruled and kept on ruling. For forty years he ruled, with the help of his elite band of Chosen Ones, a scandalously violent pack of Defenders and, as he aged, his beloved and ambitious young donkey wife, Marvellous.

But even the sticks and stones know there is no night ever so long it does not end with dawn. And so it did for the Old Horse, one day as he sat down to his Earl Grey tea and favorite radio programme. A new regime, a new leader. Or apparently so. And once again, the animals were full of hope …

Glory tells the story of a country seemingly trapped in a cycle as old as time. And yet, as it unveils the myriad tricks required to uphold the illusion of absolute power, it reminds us that the glory of tyranny only lasts as long as its victims are willing to let it. History can be stopped in a moment. With the return of a long-lost daughter, a #freefairncredibleelection, a turning tide—even a single bullet.

Author portrait: Victor Dlamini

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