The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini is a modern day Zimbabwean love story. Fourteen year old Lindiwe Bishop becomes enthralled with the boy next door, who has been accused of setting his stepmother on fire. These two rather unlikely interracial suitors join together, trying to make sense of their disparate pasts and deal with the tensions surrounding their burgeoning relationship.
One great strength of this novel is the author’s intimate knowledge of place. You can just tell that Irene Sabatini has walked these very streets of Bulawayo, breathed the air and eaten the food. This kind of authority goes a long way in making a novel come alive.
“Immediately engaging, vivid and buzzing with energy, The Boy Next Door is the work of a true storyteller. At heart a love story, it is also so much more as, through the experiences of its charismatic protagonists, it charts the first two decades of the emerging Zimbabwe with honesty, humour and humanity.” ~ Orange Prize Chair of Judges
“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.” ~ Booklist