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The Boy Next Door
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Contemporary Lit | Books read > Sabatini: The Boy Next Door | (CL) first read: Nov 2011

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message 1: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
hello! november is going to slip away if i don't pay attention! Irene Sabatini's novel The Boy Next Door won the November poll. I read it recently and really enjoyed it. I thought it gave me a pretty nuanced view of Zimbabwe at the time of the change of power from Ian Smith to Robert Mugabe and how different racial and ethnic groups coped/handled the changes. of course, as you can probably guess from the title, the book also involved some romance. but i did not find this book girly at all; to me it was quite moody and melancholy and full of suprises, which i really enjoyed. has anyone else read it or plan to read it?


Melanie | 171 comments Just started it this week - only about 40 pages in. Seems like it should be a fast read.


Muphyn | 816 comments I'm planning on starting tonight!!! (I mean that! :) )


message 4: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 660 comments I have been sooo dreadfully out of the loop. I plan to get this and start on it this weekend. I have missed everybody!


Muphyn | 816 comments We have missed you!!! :) You really get our discussions going and without you, I'm a bit lost! Welcome back! :)


message 6: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
hi everyone! it really is a fast read. heather, i'll be very curious how the mood comes across as an audio book so that it super interesting that you'll be reading it in that format.

andrea, so glad you're back! note that this is not a Tour read...i'm not sure if you were here for the Contemporary Lit discussions... :D


Melanie | 171 comments I am about half way thru and really like it. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. Marieke, I totally agree with your description of "moody and melancholy and full of surprises".


message 8: by Elizabeth (new) - added it

Elizabeth (elizabethinzambia) | 73 comments Can someone remind me how we got to ZImbabwe so fast?? I think I missed something somewhere....


message 9: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Elizabeth wrote: "Can someone remind me how we got to ZImbabwe so fast?? I think I missed something somewhere...."

Sorry for the confusion, Elizabeth...this is not part of Tour d'Afrique. This a new project for reading very current contemporary literature from Africa and the diaspora. It's in addition to the Tour, not in place of it. It's intended to give members more options. There is a lot of interest in contemporary lit but the Tour doesn't always have such books as its selections.


message 10: by Elizabeth (new) - added it

Elizabeth (elizabethinzambia) | 73 comments Got it- thanks for the clarification. What is the current book for the Tour?


message 11: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
It is a Camara Laye book...I think Radiance of the King. I don't have access to a computer right now. But if you go to the group's main page it will be displayed as "currently reading." I think we still need to set up a discussion thread.


Melanie | 171 comments Finished it last night, and gave it four stars. It snuck up on me slowly. I look forward to more of her writing.


Muphyn | 816 comments Oh no, oh no, I'm behind already!! :) If you liked it that much, Melanie (4 stars, wow!), then I really can't wait to get into it! :D


Melanie | 171 comments Oh Muphyn, that's a lot of pressure on a girl! :)


Muphyn | 816 comments *laugh* no, don't worry! I'm just inspired by you having read it so quickly and liking it so much, motivates me to really get into it! :)


message 16: by Elizabeth (new) - added it

Elizabeth (elizabethinzambia) | 73 comments Thanks Marieke- sorry I got myself all confused, but I think I am straightened out now...


message 17: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Elizabeth wrote: "Thanks Marieke- sorry I got myself all confused, but I think I am straightened out now..."

no problem! :D


message 18: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Melanie wrote: "Finished it last night, and gave it four stars. It snuck up on me slowly. I look forward to more of her writing."

that's how i felt...it kept growing on me and i got quite attached to the story by the end. i got totally sucked into it. i'm also looking forward to reading more from her. i'm contemplating sending her a note (she has a GR page) and inviting her to join our discussion. yeah, i think i should do that...

how are you doing with it, Muphyn?


message 19: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Judy wrote: "I finished it yesterday. Once David was introduced, I found myself becoming more interested in the storyline. I feel much sympathy for people who live in countries/regions that experience constant ..."

That was such a surprise. i typically see stuff like that happening in a novel, but i was totally surprised by that. it was interesting to see how they handled that/how they made decisions...in part to be a family but also to protect and prepare David. i also enjoyed figuring out her father's past and how certain people were connected. her mother made me very sad.

i have tried to contact Irene Sabatini but she may be very busy/not too active on goodreads. we'll see! i think it would be great to have her with us in this discussion. :D


message 20: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 660 comments Enjoying the discussion while waiting for my copy of the book. I don't mind spoilers at all:)


message 21: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Andrea wrote: "Enjoying the discussion while waiting for my copy of the book. I don't mind spoilers at all:)"

i'm trying to be really careful...i don't think anything above really counts as a spoiler...or maybe...eek...you tell me afterward. sorry!


message 22: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 660 comments Oh, I'm serious. I sometimes read the ending of a book first. Spoilers really, truly don't bother me.


message 23: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
It's totally my fault Judy, your posts are fine! I could go put the part of mine that might be a spoiler in spoiler tags but I'm afraid of drawing attention to it for anyone that already saw it. I suppose I could put my whole post in spoiler tags. At least we didn't ruin anything for Andrea!


Melanie | 171 comments Judy wrote: "I finished it yesterday. Once David was introduced, I found myself becoming more interested in the storyline. I feel much sympathy for people who live in countries/regions that experience constant ..."

I also was surprised by the way David was added to the story line. At first, I wasn't so sure but I think it really punched up the story a bit and helped humanize the characters even more.


message 25: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Judy wrote: "Thanks, Marieke. I'll hold off further comments until you say so though."

well i'm excited to discuss! everyone who is still reading, HURRY UP!! haha, just kidding...

but i'd say, since these are month-long reads...let's wait until Sunday to discuss in earnest without fear of spoilers. so i'll make a note in the discussion thread sometime on sunday to BEWARE just in case someone is joining in who wants to avoid spoilers.


Muphyn | 816 comments Marieke wrote: "Melanie wrote: "Finished it last night, and gave it four stars. It snuck up on me slowly. I look forward to more of her writing."

that's how i felt...it kept growing on me and i got quite attache..."


I'm still reading, I haven't stopped yet!! :D (been busy at work, so haven't had much time, but still going... which is more than usual. :) )


Melanie | 171 comments Anyone have nonfiction/memoir recommendations about Smith/Mugabe or just Zimbabwe in general? I read Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight and Scribbling the Cat (both Alexander Fuller) awhile back.


Melanie | 171 comments Thanks Judy! I have actually read both of those. I think I need to start sub-organizing my books by country to help me keep track. :)


message 29: by Friederike (new) - added it

Friederike Knabe (fknabe) | 162 comments Melanie wrote: "Anyone have nonfiction/memoir recommendations about Smith/Mugabe or just Zimbabwe in general? I read Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight and Scribbling the Cat (both Alexander Fuller) awhile back."

If you are interested in reading about pre-Zimbabwe times, you may be interested in Doris Lessing's early books about her childhood there. The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing comes to mind.


Melanie | 171 comments Thanks Friederike! I will take a look at those, I actually haven't read anything by her.


message 31: by Katy (new)

Katy | 81 comments Melanie wrote: "Anyone have nonfiction/memoir recommendations about Smith/Mugabe or just Zimbabwe in general? I read Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight and Scribbling the Cat (both Alexander Fuller) awhile back."

Hi Judy,

You might want to try Against the Grain by Geoffrey Nyarota. He was the editor of what was, for a long time, the only independent (i.e. not government-sponsored) newspaper in Zimbabwe. It's his own memoir, starting from just before independence (1980) up into the early 2000s. But there's a lot of biographical material about Mugabe, too.

Another memoir is Where We Have Hope: A Memoir of Zimbabwe by Andrew Meldrum. He's an American journalist who moved to Zim in 1980 to report on the newly independent country. He fell in love with Zim, married a woman, stayed there 20 years, and then was among the journalists who was kicked out in the early 2000s.

Songs to an African Sunset: A Zimbabwean Story, was written by Sekai Nzenza-Shand, a Zimbabwean who lived abroad for many years, and then returned to care for her dying mother (I think; it's been a long time since I read it). Lots of detail about life and customs in a Zimbabwean village.

And then -- I keep thinking of more! -- there's Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa by Peter Godwin. He was a privileged white kid growing up during the independence war, then became a soldier, and then a journalist. Good read.

Hope this helps!


Melanie | 171 comments Judy wrote: "Melanie, here is a link to some Zimbabwe books recommended by friends of mine. (Zimbabwe is the last country.) Happy hunting!"

Thanks, Judy! I think the link is missing tho, could you post it again?

I thought both books were good - a bit slow at times. I believe I gave them both three stars.


Melanie | 171 comments Katy wrote: "Melanie wrote: "Anyone have nonfiction/memoir recommendations about Smith/Mugabe or just Zimbabwe in general? I read Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight and Scribbling the Cat (both Alexander Fuller..."

Katy - Thank you! I have been wanting to read Mukiwa for quite some time. I have added the others to my ever-growing TBR list. :)


message 34: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 660 comments Was The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwealready mentioned? I read it recently and thought it was very good.


message 35: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 660 comments I just gotUnder My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949 from a used book sale and am very eager to get to it, although as it's past midnight here and I've got to grade papers all day tomorrow, it won't be soon:)


Melanie | 171 comments Thank you!


message 37: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
hey, i just came across this and thought i should add to the Zimbabwe reading list. :D


message 38: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Hey guys...I just realized November is truly almost over so feel free to discuss the book without worrying about spoilers. I'm curious to know what aspects were most compelling to each of us...for me i think it was the frank discussion of race in all its complexity.


Christina | 17 comments Hi y'all,

Peter Godwin has also written "When the crocodile eats the sun" as well as the already mentioned "Mukiwa" and "The fear". I highly recommend all of his books!


Christina | 17 comments Oh and I forgott. I recently read An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah and loved it! Short stories from Zimbabwe.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 124 comments I'm a month late in starting, but with the audio book on 2x speed I got through the first third while out doing errands yesterday.

What I think the author does really well is demonstrate the inconsistency between what a teenager is told to do and what he or she actually does, and the slightly bewildering way the world can feel. The stakes are much higher in the Zimbabwe portrayed here, but it feels very familiar and universal to me. More soon when I finish!


message 42: by Friederike (new) - added it

Friederike Knabe (fknabe) | 162 comments Kiki wrote: "Oh and I forgott. I recently read An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah and loved it! Short stories from Zimbabwe."

Another book I want to read... and have on my shelf. I am glad you recommend it.


message 43: by Friederike (new) - added it

Friederike Knabe (fknabe) | 162 comments Jenny wrote: "I'm a month late in starting, but with the audio book on 2x speed I got through the first third while out doing errands yesterday.

What I think the author does really well is demonstrate the inc..."


Well put,thanks.


message 44: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Yes, i agree, Jenny. For me the book was both universal and specific to Zimbabwe. Now i want to read everything mentioned in this thread about and from Zimbabwe. :D


message 45: by Muphyn (last edited Dec 17, 2011 09:11PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Muphyn | 816 comments I really loved it, got under my skin somehow. Sabatini seemed to capture both sides of the black/white relationship, and also the downward spiral that the new nation found itself on. Sad...

Marieke, I'm with you - I now want to read as much about Zimbabwe as I can (I doubt I will) but yeah, the book really inspired me to read more...


Beverly | 543 comments Kiki wrote: "Oh and I forgott. I recently read An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah and loved it! Short stories from Zimbabwe."

I too loved this book. And was one of my top reads for 2010. I am sure hoping that she published another work of fiction soon.
I so loved how the stories interwined the lives of the people (rich and poor), how they go about their everyday lives and the political environment.


message 47: by Fela (new)

Fela | 23 comments Melanie wrote: "Anyone have nonfiction/memoir recommendations about Smith/Mugabe or just Zimbabwe in general? I read Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight and Scribbling the Cat (both Alexander Fuller) awhile back."

Mugabe by Martin Meredith is a good book about Zimbabwe. A bit biased sometimes but nonetheless good.


Christina | 17 comments I read the book now...a lot later that all of you... I thought it was good. I spent some time in Zimbabwe and could recognize the political mood.

However I was a bit fascinated and also bewildered by the relationship between Ian and Lindiwe. How can two people not ever sit down and talk to each other? That is so strange to me.

I live how the political development was woven into the personal stories and I like that there were many surprises.

I would like o have given this book 5 stars but only give it 4 because there is something about it that bothers me....I would have liked some more insight into the various characters minds.


message 49: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Kiki, i'm glad you read it! and liked it! i can understand your reasons for striking one star off.

i also felt frustrated with the communication issues, but i thought it was really well done. those scenes evoked a lot of pain and vulnerability for me. as sad as it is, i think a lot of couples must suffer from this same problem. talking isn't always as easy as it seems.

but at the same time, despite the communication issues, i really admired them as a couple for putting so much energy in trying to make things work despite the stress of politics and race.


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