Reviews of An Act of Defiance by Irene Sabatini - Writer - Official Website

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An Act of Defiance


"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."
Media Praises
"Dangarembga and Sabatini have written compelling novels about brutal experiences: both feature the hyena as a metaphor for derangement .... and both contain what Dangarembga has spoken of as the “location of hope” – something that sustains humanity and possibility in circumstances where they face erasure."


"Irene Sabatini, author of The Boy Next Door, superbly recreates the terror and horrifying repercussions of Mugabe's later years of rule in this expansive literary thriller. It's a tough read, but ultimately an uplifting and moving one."

"Irene Sabatini, Winner of the 2010 Orange Award for New Writers, has written an unforgettable novel about love, agency, motherhood, and bravery, showing how the dehumanizing effects of political violence can shape and remake a life."
"A searing, delightful gem of a book.
In prose that delights and informs, Sabatini's characters soar, gifting us with all that is tender and brutal and and beutiful and honest"
NOVUYO ROSA TSHUMA, author of House of Stone

"An incredible achievement."
CHIKA UNIGWE, author of On Black Sisters' Street

"A brave novel about conscience and trauma, justice and fear, and the struggle to regain strength after the near distruction on the soul."
HELEN BENEDICT, author of Wolf Season

"Raw, moving and utterly compelling."
TENDAI HUCHU, author of The Hairdresser of Harare
Bloggers' Views
"What a outstanding, intergenerational, raw, gripping and beautiful work of fiction this was. I don’t know what I loved more? The storyline, Sabatini’s prose, the characters - it was just brilliant. Gabrielle was an extraordinary character, with so much depth to her. The book was so fact-paced and I finished it in 3 sittings. " ...read more here

"The characters were so fully rounded that they felt real, often I forgot it was fiction and it felt like I was living the lives of these people with them. I have to take a second to really congratulate the author on the writing of this book" ...read more here

"What delicate writing lies in this book. I found myself reading every word as slowly as possible, so as to savour it, and then all of a sudden staying up all night to finish the book because I couldn't bear not knowing what was happening to Gabrielle… So many times I was brought to tears by this love shared between the two, against all odds." ...read more here

"This is such a powerful book. Irene Sabatini realises Zimbabwe under Mugabe, so that it jumps off the page in both terrifying and beautiful ways. I won’t forget Gabrielle and Ben. I was taken away by her story - of the awful things she experienced and the moments of love. About two thirds of the way through the book I was actually sobbing and I haven’t reacted to a book like that in a very long time. " ...read more here

"...this is a really incredible story and superbly written! I’m particularly loving the dual timelines that the chapters jump between, and the complexity written into Gabrielle’s character."  ...read more here

"An Act of Defiance grabbed my attention and only let go when I turned the last page. Sabatini created a memorable, complex character with Gabrielle who has to navigate her life between being defiant, her wish to be free, her anxieties and fears and the desire to create some change." ...read more here

"When we hear of violence in African countries, especially in Western news, we are made to believe that there is nothing else but violence and suffering happening in the countries in question. Sabatini does, however, redirect and reclaim that narrative through her phenomenal prose and exquisite storytelling."  ...read more on Literandra

"Gabrielle’s long struggle to regain self-control felt so real and authentic, I was rooting for her the whole way through. Entwined with the despair, the injustice, the corruption is a flicker of hope that gains momentum as the novel comes to a close. This was my first Sabatini and I can’t wait to explore her previous two novels in the new year."  ...read more here

"Spanning seventeen years, Sabatini’s novel is a poignant love story as well as a vivid account of Zimbabwe’s devastation and the beginnings of liberation. Gabrielle’s trauma is sensitively handled, the torture visited upon her detailed in brief snapshots, graphic but necessarily so, and the ruin of Danika wrenchingly portrayed. It’s a powerful story, made all the more so by the awareness of its veracity". ...read more here

"My heart was in my mouth for the first half of the book, and while this eased up somewhat midway, I found this both an incredibly compelling and anxiety-inducing read. Using short chapters and jumps in time, this is a fast paced read that I couldn’t put down for extended periods, and Gabrielle particularly is a character that was completely brought to life with Sabatini’s words."  ...read more here

"It's tough to build a book that revolves around political parties and events but Irene does it quite masterfully. This book in some ways, reminded me a lot of Half of the yellow sun by Chimamanda. The writing is strikingly similar to that of the iconic author and considering how the story takes place during the political upheaval, they bare a strong resemblance."   ....read more on goodreads

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