Based in part on the 2017 Zimbabwe coup, Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo’s highly anticipated novel “Glory” is centered around the crumbling political system of Jidada, a fictional nation inhabited by animals like Destiny the goat or Tuvy the horse. When Jidada's leader, the Old Horse, loses his power, the nation’s citizens grapple with the question of who should take his place. In its threatened collapse, their society shockingly mirrors reality. All of their conflicts, from Twitter feuds to revolutionary violence, are applicable to ones that are witnessed in the world today.
Bulawayo employs stunning imagery, humorous dialogue, and thought-provoking Twitter-like threads in telling the story of “Glory.” These components lend greater depth to a story that already touches on a variety of political issues, including controversies involving conversative, old-fashioned views of women, and racial tensions. Through elements adopted from the real world, Bulawayo encourages readers to be more aware of the societal power structures that govern their own lives.
Readers witness many progressive changes in the society of animals as the kingdom reshapes itself. Bulawayo reveals how twisted the state of the world really is and mocks the ridiculous behavior of those who stand in the way of progress. She makes outrageous claims that are clearly intended to be humorous, making her novel toe the line of satire.
“Glory” is packed with various dynamic characters, which often makes it difficult to paint a full picture of Jidada in one’s mind; there are simply too many characters to keep track of. Nonetheless, the overwhelming number of characters does not detract from the message of a need for social and political reform conveyed throughout the novel.
One of the best parts of the novel’s layout is the inclusion of the aforementioned simulated Twitter thread chapters. Like the Twitter feuds of the human world, the threads are both informative of the atmosphere of the animals’ society and incredibly entertaining. Characters share sarcastic responses to online claims, such as in @goldenm’s tweet: “It’s spelled Dictatorship bruh. DICTATORSHIP. I mean you should know the spelling seeing it’s on your forehead.”
These tweets also summarize the kingdom’s attitude after what took place in previous chapters, pushing readers to keep up with the fast-paced story. One Tweet from @movernshaker states in response to another user: “Sit down, you didn’t start shit in 2017. Tuvy and the dogs carried out a coup, y’all were just used to sanitize it. And now they’ll finish their thing, WATCH and LEARN.”
Additionally, the novel highlights meaningful feminist issues through bold dialogue. Through characters like Aunt MaKhumalo and others, Bulawayo proves she is not afraid to write about sensitive topics. On the contrary, she takes pains to emphasize the ridiculousness of having such outdated opinions about women’s rights in modern society.
Above all, Bulawayo very clearly calls out the holes in our political systems throughout the novel. “Even the sticks and stones will tell you that an animal can’t just preach change without embodying it themselves, and that that change has to begin at the top and then trickle down to the rest of the masses,” she writes. In an important call to action, she prompts readers to reevaluate the performance of their political systems. In doing so, this novel effectively guides readers toward a greater consciousness of societal issues through a fictional, humorous, and animal-filled scope.
—Staff Writer Hailey E. Krasnikov can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.