Irene's new book, AN ACT OF DEFIANCE, tells the story of Gabrielle Langa, an idealistic young woman working as a lawyer in Harare at the height of Robert Mugabe’s rule, and her journey towards self-realisation in the wake of a brutal attack.. A sweeping political drama and a refreshingly unconventional love story, Sabatini takes the reader through Zimbabwe’s unfolding economic and political crises, showing the brutal and dehumanising effects of the corruption and violence wrought by Mugabe’s regime.
"A tough read, but ultimately an uplifting and moving one"
"A searing, delightful gem of a book."
NOVUYO ROSA TSHUMA, author of House of Stone
"An incredible achievement."
CHIKA UNIGWE, author of On Black Sisters' Street
"Raw, moving and utterly compelling."
TENDAI HUCHU, author of The Hairdresser of Harare
"What a outstanding, intergenerational, raw, gripping and beautiful work of fiction."
"What delicate writing lies in this book."
"...this is a really incredible story and superbly written! "
"...phenomenal prose and exquisite storytelling."
"...grabbed my attention and only let go when I turned the last page."
"...this is a fast paced read that I couldn’t put down..."
"It’s a powerful story, made all the more so by the awareness of its veracity".
"...my first Sabatini and I can’t wait to explore her previous two novels."
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Irene Sabatini won the
2010 Orange Award for New Writers
"...powerful, passionate and ultimately life-enhancing."
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Irene wrote PEACE AND CONFLICT in 2014.
"...another fictional dynamo, 10-year-old Roberto, who narrates with such charm it’s hard not to fall in love with him."
Bernardine Evaristo, The Guardian
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Irene Sabatini spent her childhood in the laid back city of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, gobbling up books from the Public Library. After University in Harare she ventured across continents to Colombia, excited by the chance to live in, learn from, and be inspired by a new culture. One early morning she found herself in the lush countryside outside Bogotá, sitting on the veranda of a former Dominican monastery: in the quiet, she opened a red notebook and started writing. She has yet to stop.
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After attending the University of Zimbabwe in Harare and earning a master’s degree in child development from the Institute of Education at University College London, Irene moved to Colombia in her early twenties. Over the past 30 years, she lived and travelled extensively in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and the United States.
Irene now divides her time between New York, Geneva and Bulawayo.
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I was born some fifty years ago in Hwange, a coal mining town in western Zimbabwe. I grew up in Bulawayo, the second largest city in Zimbabwe, which is known for its graceful colonial era architecture, examples of which can be found on the picture gallery page of this website.
I spent many hours in the fabulous Public Library, down in the basement of the children's section devouring everything from Enid Blyton to Shane by Jack Schaefer, one of my favourite books. I left quiet Bulawayo for 'The Sunshine City', Harare, to attend university. Harare is all hustle and bustle, with some fantastic futuristic buildings.
After university I went to Colombia where I lived for four years working as teacher and studying for my masters. One of my biggest thrills in Colombia was catching sight of the legendary Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Cartegena de Indias. 'Here, in front of me, is a real, living writer', I remember thinking. 'They exist!'.
Soon after that, I started writing. The writing seemed to just spiral out of me, and if I had to pick a time when I really started this journey it would be that wonderful quiet morning on a verandah so many years ago in the Colombian countryside..