Winner of the 2010 Orange Award for New Writers
Two days after I turned fourteen the son of our neighbour set his stepmother alight.
Or so Lindiwe Bishop believes, though eighteen months later the charges against Ian McKenzie are dropped and he returns home, full of charm and swagger.
Intrigued, Lindiwe strikes up a covert friendship with the mysterious white boy next door. As a bond grows between them, they cannot foreseee how severely it will be tested in the years ahead - by secrets and by a world that wants nothing more than to divide them.
Vividly evoking Zimbabwe's slide from independence into chaos, THE BOY NEXT DOOR tells an engrossing tale about what it means to witness, change, love and remain whole when all around you is falling apart.
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
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
A fine and accomplished first novel...full of understanding, insight and powerful beauty - Alexander Lucie-Smith, Tablet
A tender, powerful debut, this story makes an indelible imprint - Easy Living
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