And the winner is…Irene Sabatini!

Irene Sabatini has just won the Orange Award for New Writers with her debut novel
THE BOY NEXT DOOR. As one of the judges, I am delighted with the result.

THE BOY NEXT DOOR is set in post-independent Zimbabwe of the 80s and 90s.
One of the great achievements of the novel is the way in which Sabatini reveals the political through the personal. The unorthodox relationship between Lindiwe, a ‘coloured’ girl and Ian, a white Zimbabwean (or ‘Rhodie’: unreconstructed white Rhodesian) is at the heart of the novel, and theirs is a fascinating and unpredictable relationship. The character of Ian is unforgettable – he fizzes with energy and is totally unpredictable. Yet we learn a lot about the society and politics of a deteriorating Zimbabwe too, from state-sanctioned violence to notions of race and the racism which are negotiated daily. While the novel is quite uncompromising and hard-hitting, it is far from polemical. Everything is refracted through the relationship and we are simply left with a deeper understanding of the complex layers of life there. If you expect heavy doses of miserabilism from African literature ‘ The Tortured Continent’ then this novel will defy your expectations. It is powerful, passionate and ultimately life-enhancing. See link below to Amazon.

Irene Sabatini


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