The Boy Next Door: A Novel - Bloogers Take - Irene Sabatini

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"While the novel is quite uncompromising and hard-hitting, it is far from polemical. Everything is refracted through the relationship and we are simply left with a deeper understanding of the complex layers of life there. If you expect heavy doses of miserabilism from African literature ‘The Tortured Continent’ then this novel will defy your expectations. It is powerful, passionate and ultimately life-enhancing."

read more in  Bernardine Evaristo's New Blog

"Sabatini’s debut novel is intense and beautiful and artistic. The relationship she paints between Ian and Lindiwe is enormous and tragic and joyous all at the same time, it flows up and down with a life of its own, and we’re taken along in the river and cannot escape. We could hardly wish to.This novel was a debut novel, and it was beautiful. I had tears in my eyes. I suspect we’ll all be hearing about Irene Sabatini in the future".

read more in  The Crowded Leaf

"Irene Sabatini’s debut novel is a love story, and a story of one woman’s attempt to live a normal existence against the backdrop of Zimbabwean independence and the sometimes gradual, sometimes shockingly abrupt decline of the country of her birth – and it’s a really fantastic book".


"I particularly loved the way this novel was so clear-eyed about the disappointment, fear, and prejudice — as well as the goodness — found in people of every shade. I am so glad I read this book. It gave me a new degree of understanding as well as taking me on a wonderful journey"

read more in Indelible Inc

"We are allowed to breath in the grace of these lives laced with hope and commitment. I look forward to Sabatini’s long career. She has much to say, and she says it so wonderfully."

Mostly Fiction Book Reviews

"[Sabatini] chronicles a most unconventional love story that begins against the backdrop of the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. Later, the story settles amid an Africa in flux, dealing with issues of racial and national identity, history, and memory... The book is a success, and I look forward to seeing what Sabatini does next".

Superfast Reader

"The Boy Next Door, like many good stories, is difficult to characterize. The story of Lindiwe is a coming of age story and a love story. But since begins in Zimbabwe in the 1980s, The Boy Next Door gives us unique insight into the political upheaval and violence that accompanied those early years of independence from British rule.  Lindiwe and Ian McKenzie are both interesting and sympathetic characters in their own right, but the extraordinary circumstances that they find themselves in makes The Boy Next Door an engrossing and memorable read. Irene Sabatini has come up with a brilliant debut novel and I look forward to reading her next work."

read more in Starting Fresh

"As a journalist, you are trained to remain neutral but allow me; this is one of the best books I have read within the last year..."

read more in Belinda Otas
's blog

"I also appreciated how Sabatini had this sort of elliptical structure going on without going overboard. I think that sounds a bit vague, so to clarify, at the end of the first section there are hints that a certain thing had happened (I am trying to be spoiler-free), but we don't know for sure until the book jumps forward several years, and even then you're not quite sure at first. I thought it was really interesting, the way Sabatini sort of highlighted-by-avoiding the big game-changing center of the book."

read more in Talking to Myself

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