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Advance Reviews

what people are saying


September 15, 2023 by Devanshi

You would have heard this sometime in your life that the Caste system is limited to India and the ‘West’ is free of any such evil form of stratification.
ell, the novel- House Boy, provides ample evidence against the statement. The story of a 24-year-old Dalit boy, Vijay, who finds himself experiencing in England,
what he thought he left behind in India- Caste-based discrimination, is profoundly brought to us by Lorenzo DeStefano.



August 25, 2023 by Sociology Group



“A young Indian man sets out to support his impoverished family and winds up in a human trafficking ring.

Author, producer, and playwright DeStefano’s debut centers around the life of 20-something Vijay Pallan, born poor in the “solarized and crude topography” of Chettipattu village in southern India. Vijay internalizes his family’s strife and, weary of his father’s belief that “this is how life is when you have nothing,” ventures out into the Chennai capital planning to improve his family’s conditions. Despite Vijay’s steely determination, work doesn’t come easy. Worse, he is attacked by a vicious animal in a city park. But he’s rescued by a local; Santhana offers him food and shelter and boasts about his work with an employment agency that hires “domestics” for Indian families in Britain. Santhana’s evasive, fast-talking boss, Narahari, promises the young man top living conditions, opportunities for “foreign travel,” and a generous hiring bonus. Split into two very different sections, the novel’s first half paints a very realistic, vibrant portrait of poor Indian families and their struggle to thrive amid a violent, discriminatory caste system. In the novel’s second half, vulnerable Vijay is whisked off to North London and immediately enslaved as the unpaid house boy for a family wickedly skilled in physical, sexual, and psychological abuse and torment of servants. Vijay must become a savage outlaw in a vicious whirlwind of murder and retribution. Though the novel is often intense and graphically violent, DeStefano tempers his plot with Vijay’s worldview and atmospheric portrayals of India and England. And Vijay’s traumatic experiences transcend fiction and read like an authentic, contemporary depiction of the effects of the caste system and human trafficking. In his acknowledgements, DeStefano thanks an unnamed contributor “who actually lived this story.”

Evocative imagery, sociopolitical relevance, and a compelling storyline.”


“It’s unusual to find a mystery so thoroughly laced with contemporary social issues,
but DeStefano creates a delicate dance through emotional territory that juxtaposes intrigue with thought-provoking social and psychological inspections and cross-connections that operate on a global scale… Permeated with cultural observation and messages, HOUSE BOY offers quite a different focus and insights than most as it traverses the human psyche and its ability to perform, accept, or defy grave injustices.”

Risah Salazar / Feathered Quill


“Lorenzo DeStefano’s HOUSE BOY is a painfully realistic page-turner that is both enthralling and horrifying. The book discusses a lot of existing social and environmental problems and never lets you forget them through the author’s haunting storytelling. The characters are as human as they can be – complex and deeply motivated. In terms of world-building, DeStefano is consistently amazing. From Chettipattu to Chennai to London, he takes the readers not only into the character’s journey but also into the settings where it happens. Despite the harsh realities that it tackles, HOUSE BOY gives a vivid imagery of the towns and cities involved in Vijay’s travels. The book has just the right amount of details. Unlike other books, the string of facts does not bore you, it actually makes the story even more interesting. A great read that will ground you and make you check your privilege.”


“DeStefano’s novel about human trafficking and atrocities is a horrifying tale of cruelty in the name of caste, ranging from Southern India to suburban London. Vijay Pallan, a Dalit–or “untouchable”–boy from Tamil Nadu, a rural state in southern India, goes to Chennai searching for a job to earn money for his sisters’ dowry. In Chennai, he falls into the clutches of Santhana Gopalan who works for a dubious agency that “supplies” household staff to rich Indian families in Britain. Vijay is elated at the prospect of more prosperous times for him and his family but on reaching the household of Binda Tagorstani, he finds the conditions are inhumane and atrocious.

DeStefano exposes, with empathy and striking prose, the slavery, assault, and general horror visited upon the poor not just in India but persisting in western cities just out of sight. Still, readers familiar with Indian life and culture may find some details distracting, especially in the Tamil Nadu sequences. The title character is called Vijay Pallan, though it’s unlikely someone from the Dalit community would add their caste to their name for the simple reason that they don’t want to be discriminated against, and the portrayal of Vijay’s family and their poverty lacks dimension. Vijay’s desperation and fear, though, are persuasive, and the manner in which he’s seduced (“we feel an obligation to offer certain exceptional individuals like yourself the option of working abroad”) into leaving his country is chilling.

But once the narrative shifts to Britain, the novel stands on firmer–and more convincing– ground. DeStefano’s depiction of Vijay’s long hours of work, near-starvation, and humiliation at the hands of Binda and her son Ravi—as well as Vijay’s crime—starkly highlight the power dynamics between the oppressor and oppressed. In tense courtroom scenes the reader is treated to some scintillating dialogue.”


“ House Boy is an important novel for raising awareness of a human tragedy
that is all too often kept out of sight, its victims often also unfairly blamed
for the predicament in which they find themselves.”

Kevin Bales

Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy”,
“The Slave Next Door”, “Blood and Earth – Modern Slavery, Ecocide,
 and the Secret to Saving the World”

“’HOUSE BOY’ is a sharp look into a normally dark and hidden place.
The story rocks and rolls and surprises as it peels away the layers hiding slavery in plain sight in London today. Just don’t think this happens only in London.
 Likely as not, it’s where you live, too. A great read.”

Barry Gifford

“Wild at Heart”, “Lost Highway”, “Roy’s World”

“Lorenzo DeStefano’s ‘HOUSE BOY’ chronicles with authority and excruciating verisimilitude a tragedy of truly grotesque proportions. The trafficking and subsequent exploitation of human beings continues to this day, a loathsome criminal enterprise.
The veracity of ‘HOUSE BOY’, delivered dramatically and cinematically,
is both revelatory and compelling.”

Falguni Jain

(  /  @bookworm_falguni) 

“’HOUSE BOY’ is an enthralling book about the persistent caste discrimination
and human slavery in India. As an Indian, as much as I hate to accept the extent
to which such crimes take place, I can’t turn a blind eye to the ground realities.
This book is a scary yet brutally honest display of the crimes in the name of caste
and slavery. Filled with anger against social issues,
Lorenzo DeStefano’s ‘HOUSE BOY’ is a gut-wrenching read”.

Vidhya Thakkar


“In his book, ‘HOUSE BOY’, Lorenzo DeStefano weaves an amazing story that you must definitely read. The author discusses some tragic events that will astound you.
A perfect blend of mystery, drama, and emotions.”

Neelam Sharma / Booxoul


“Lorenzo DeStefano’s ‘HOUSE BOY’ is a powerfully written saga portraying the horrible atrocities of human trafficking and exploitation of the subordinate class.

His writing is intense, painting a painful picture of those who are caught unwillingly in this horrible travesty of serf suffering. Merciless, cruel, yet brutally real.”