Gillian Slovo

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(novelist, playwright, memoirist)
Gillian Slovo.jpg
Born15 March 1952

Gillian Slovo is one of three daughters of anti-apartheid activists Ruth First and Joe Slovo and is a novelist, playwright and memoirist. Her courtroom drama Red Dust (2000) explored the meanings and effects of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.[1]

Support for Jeremy Corbyn

On 20 February 2019, Gillian Slovo was one of over 200 Jewish members and supporters of the Labour Party to sign a letter to The Guardian urging that anyone seeking an end to bigotry and racism should back Labour and Jeremy Corbyn:[2]

You report (19 February) that a number of implacably anti-Corbyn MPs have left the Labour Party alleging a failed “approach to dealing with antisemitism”, with Luciana Berger criticising Labour for becoming “sickeningly institutionally racist”.

We are Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party concerned about the current rise of reactionary ideologies, including antisemitism, in Britain and elsewhere across Europe.

We note the worrying growth of populist rightwing parties, encouraging racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism. In Britain the far right is whipping up these prejudices, a threat that requires a resolute and energetic response. But instead we have seen a disproportionate focus on antisemitism on the left, which is abhorrent but relatively rare.

We believe that the Labour Party under the progressive leadership of Jeremy Corbyn is a crucial ally in the fight against bigotry and reaction. His lifetime record of campaigning for equality and human rights, including consistent support for initiatives against antisemitism, is formidable. His involvement strengthens this struggle.

Labour governments introduced both the anti-racist and human rights legislation of the 20th century and the 2010 Equality Act. A Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn will be a powerful force to fight against racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism.

It is in this context that we welcome the Labour Party’s endorsement of freedom of expression on Israel and on the rights of Palestinians. Labour is correct to recognise that while prejudice against Jewish people is deplorable, criticism of Israel’s government and policies can and must be made.

We urge all who wish to see an end to bigotry and racism, and who seek a more just society, to give their support to the Labour Party.


Gillian Slovo's latest novel, Ten Days, begins in London on a run down council estate where a young black man is accidentally killed whilst being restrained by police. In the days that follow, a peaceful demonstration turns into violent protest and the resulting riots begin to spread countrywide. On BBC Radio 4's Frontrow of 2 March 2016, Gillian Slovo discussed her book, and revealed how it was inspired by interviews she did with police, politicians, rioters and residents involved in the riots of 2011.[3]

  • Morbid Symptoms (1984)
  • Death by Analysis (1986)
  • Death Comes Staccato (1987)
  • Ties of Blood (1989)
  • The Betrayal (1991)
  • Looking for Thelma (1991)
  • Façade (1993)
  • Catnap (1994)
  • Close Call (1995)
  • Red Dust (2000)
  • Ice Road (2004)
  • Black Orchids (2008)
  • An Honourable Man (2012)
  • Ten Days (2016)


  • Guantanamo : Honour Bound to Defend Freedom (with Victoria Brittain) (2005)
  • The Riots (2011 play)[4]


Gillian Slovo's 1997 memoir, Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country, is an account of her childhood in South Africa and her relationship with her parents Joe Slovo and Ruth First — both famous South Africans and major figures in the anti-apartheid struggle who lived perilous lives of exile, armed resistance, and occasional imprisonment, which culminated in her mother's assassination in a letter bomb attack by Craig Williamson in 1982. A family memoir in the form of a feature film, A World Apart (1988), was written by her sister Shawn Slovo and starred Barbara Hershey.

English PEN Presidency

Slovo was the 25th president of the English Centre of International PEN, the worldwide writers fellowship. In 2012 she took part in a PEN International delegation to Mexico to protest the killing of journalists in that country, alongside presidents of other PEN Centres and internationally prominent writers.[5][6]


  1. "Guardian profile: Gillian Slovo"
  2. "Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is a crucial ally in the fight against antisemitism"
  3. "Ten Days by Gillian Slovo"
  4. "Guantanamo: Honour Bound to Defend Freedom". Timeline Theatre. Retrieved 15 January 2013.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "CSS").
  5. Gillian Slovo, "'In Mexico, Reporters are Hunted Like Rabbits'", Author Author, The Guardian. 3 February 2012.
  6. Liz Bury (3 December 2013). "Gillian Slovo wins Golden PEN award". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 May 2014.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "CSS").

External links

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