Books by Gillian Slovo

ICE ROAD by Gillian Slovo
Released: April 1, 2005

"Slovo risks melodrama, but on the whole her tale is smart and poignant, exploring some of the same moral territory as Nikita Mikhalkov's film Burnt by the Sun. A big idea well handled."
The adventures of Boris and Natasha. No, not that Boris and Natasha, but a pair equally in thrall to a shadowy leader, and without the laughter. Read full book review >
RED DUST by Gillian Slovo
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

"Well intended, but still less persuasively compelling than much nonfiction about the Commission."
Slovo (Every Secret Thing, 1997, etc.), daughter of South African activists, unconvincingly mixes conventional takes on big ideas—truth, justice, responsibility—with a breathless criminal investigation of a young man's death during Apartheid. Read full book review >
Released: May 12, 1997

Weaving the personal and political tightly together, novelist Slovo creates an incisive and unflinching portrait of her prominent South African family. At the height of apartheid, perhaps no two white South Africans were more hated and more admired than Slovo's parents, Ruth First and Joe Slovo. As prominent members of the ANC and the South African Communist Party (which Joe would eventually head), they had gone where few white South Africans dared. Not content with the subdued grumbling and subversive tea parties that usually passed for anti-apartheid activism in their privileged circle, they became increasingly radicalized and escaped into exile. While Ruth fought for the cause largely through journalism and academic research, Joe lived a life of secrecy and subterfuge, planning how to hit back at the apartheid regime through sabotage and terror. Though the South African government wanted both of them dead, Ruth was the easier target. In 1982, a mail bomb killed her in Mozambique. Joe lived to help negotiate—peacefully—South Africa's future. But soon after Mandela appointed him minister of housing, he was stricken with cancer and quickly died. As Slovo investigates the wilderness of mirrors that constituted her parents' political lives, she also tries to discover who they really were as individuals behind the secrets and the lies. She has covered some of this ground before in fiction (Ties of Blood, 1990), but what she discovered and recounts here has a strangeness and piquancy quite beyond her fictive powers. Not only does she track down and confront one of the men responsible for her mother's death—a cool and clever equivocator, largely unrepentant—she also movingly details the pain and the pride she felt growing up in such strange, terrible times. A memorable and emotionally compelling achievement. Read full book review >
CATNAP by Gillian Slovo
Released: Dec. 10, 1996

Kate Baeier used to run a London detective agency with strong- willed, dark-skinned Carmen. (Last reported case: Death Comes Staccato, 1988). She also used to live with a lover named Sam, son of a well-loathed rich man, but he was killed by a hit-and-run assassin. So, deserting her partner, her business, and her lifestyle, Kate has spent five years as a journalist, reporting from ``trouble spots.'' Just lately she's returned to London for a brief business visit, staying in a luxury residence to cat-sit for a graciously insistent expatriate friend. A street mugging, a chance encounter with a photographer colleague (he has a last snapshot of Sam), and a face-off with the aggrieved Carmen thrust Kate back into snoop stance, particularly as an unfinished case file seems to link up with Sam's death. Old friends, old enemies (Sam's father blocks her access to Sam's son), a pension scam, a cat-killing, and a lot of guilt complicate the plot as Kate's repressed memories emerge and the venting begins. Throughout, our protagonist struggles with the controlling behavior and hurt feelings of others, reporting the trouble spots of her own psyche with a wearing narcissism. Careless writing plus an unconvincingly weak heroine (she dislikes herself, she says) capsize a story that, given a more stylish treatment, could have passed as original. Read full book review >