The Boy Next Door: A Novel - Reviews - Irene Sabatini

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The best books for Christmas: Our pick of 2010 -
"The Boy Next Door, Irene Sabatini's tough-minded, tenderly voiced love story from turbulent Zimbabwe"

26 November 2010, Boyd Tonkin introduces our pick of the year,  The Independent

"What a worthy winner of the 2010 Orange Award for New Writers. This is an exuberant, tender and often humorous love story... Irene Sabatini is a born writer, and she has told a completely engrossing story which combines brilliantly realised fictional characters as well as evoking the only too real sad degradation of a once-thriving country."

2 July 2010  - Carla Mckay, Daily Mail

""Two days after I turned 14 the son of our neighbour set his stepmother alight", begins one of the most engaging novels about inter-racial love to be published this century...  Sabatini shows the gradual collapse of her 'country of eternal optimists' with a hundred swift, sure touches and a rich cast of characters, heightening tension and mystery... It is entertaining, ambitious and packed with news from elsewhere, leavened by the precious optimism of youth. Don't miss it."

29 June 2010  - Amanda Craig,  The Independent Newspaper

"Last month Irene Sabatini won the Orange Award for New Writers, with this, her debut novel. It is a brilliant read.... I admire the way that Sabatini shows her love of the country through her tense characters and the descriptions of the countryside and the cities are stunning, "

July 2010 -
Tricia Wombell. Lime Magazine

"Irene Sabatini's remarkable debut novel about Zimbabwe is a kaleidoscopic blend of elements encompassing everything from coming of age and first love to race, nationalism and the rapid degradation of a once-thriving country. The story is at once sprawling and intimate, political and personal.... [Sabatini] is able to convey the evolution of Lindiwe and Ian's complex relationship with brilliant nuance and depth. Her portrayal of their different but ultimately connected views on race, family and country is masterful. Like Lindiwe, Sabatini grew up in Bulawayo and was educated in Harare. Like many first novels, this story has an autobiographical feel, but one that adds authenticity and immediacy to the narrative. Sabatini's descriptions of Zimbabwe--its people, its languages, its politics, its beauty and its despair--are absolutely stunning and not to be missed."

Debra Ginsberg, in Shelf Awareness

A sprawling, ambitious and utterly compelling first novel about Zimbabwe that blends an unusual love story with political upheaval and national tragedy. (Shelf Talker)

"...Sabatini, who grew up in Harare and Bulawayo, offers a beautifully written first novel that explores the complexities of post-independent Zimbabwe–ever-shifting affinities of race, family, and other affiliations–through the love story of a mixed-race couple."

Vanessa Bush, in Booklist

"Irene Sabatini's captivating new first novel, THE BOY NEXT DOOR, offers readers a rare and often painfully honest glimpse into life in post-independent Zimbabwe. And yet there is much light and hope and yes, love – genuine and hard-earned – in this book as well. A true pleasure."

Peter Orner, author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo

"Irene Sabatini’s deceptive narration in this haunting novel lures the reader in slowly, slowly—coiling like a snake about to spring. By the time you realize that she’s mesmerized you, it’s too late. You’re hooked on Sabatini’s superb narrative skills and there’s nothing to do but read faster and faster. The Boy Next Door is unlike any other novel that I have read about Southern Africa, let alone Zimbabwe the story’s setting..... The Boy Next Door is an intellectual puzzle disguised as a detective story. When everything is finally revealed, it’s impossible not to be impressed by Sabatini’s flawless first novel. May she write many more."

Charles R. Larson, Professor of Literature at American University, Washington D.C., in Counterpunch

"Irene Sabatini. The Boy Next Door...  a book of the decade and quite possibly of the century"

Professor R L Widmann, Colorado University

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