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The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini

The Boy Next Door

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Winner of the Orange Award for New Writers 2010.

A love story but also a historical and political comment on Africa and the racial tensions that surfaced through the 1980’s and 90’s. A moving and thought provoking debut.


The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini

As Zimbabwe breaks free of British colonial rule, young Lindiwe Bishop encounters violence at close hand when her white neighbour is murdered. But this is a domestic crime, apparently committed by the woman's stepson, Ian, although he is released from prison surprisingly quickly. Intrigued, Lindiwe strikes up a covert friendship with the mysterious boy next door, until he abruptly departs for South Africa.

Years later, Ian returns to find Lindiwe has been hiding her own secret. It is to bring them closer together, but also test a relationship already contending with racial prejudice and the hostility of Lindiwe's mother. And as their country slides towards chaos, the couple's grip on happiness becomes ever more precarious.

Vividly evoking the traumatic history of a nation once brimming with promise, THE BOY NEXT DOOR tells an engrossing, unpredictable story of love against the odds, and of the shadows cast by the past.


Irene Sabatini's captivating 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 * A tender, powerful debut, this story makes an indelible imprint * Easy Living * A fine and accomplished first novel...full of understanding, insight and powerful beauty * Alexander Lucie-Smith, Tablet * 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. * Carla McKay, Daily Mail * 'One of the most engaging novels about inter-racial love to be published this century ... entertaining, ambitious and packed with news from elsewhere, leavened by the precious optimism of youth. Don't miss it.' * Amanda Craig, Independent *

About the Author

Irene Sabatini

Irene Sabatini was born in Hwange, a coal mining town in southwest Zimbabwe and grew up in Bulawayo. She studied psychology at the University of Zimbabwe and then took a Masters at the Institute of Education in London. She has had a wide variety of jobs including teaching in Bogotá and doing research work in Barbadian schools. She currently lives in Geneva with her husband and two sons.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th April 2010


Irene Sabatini

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416 pages


Literary Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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