Gillian Slovo

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Gillian Slovo
Slovo in 2011
Slovo in 2011
Born (1952-03-15) 15 March 1952 (age 72)
OccupationNovelist, playwright
ParentsJoe Slovo, Ruth First
RelativesShawn Slovo, Robyn Slovo (siblings)

Gillian Slovo (born 15 March 1952) is a South African-born writer who lives in the UK. She was a recipient of the Golden PEN Award.

Early life and education[edit]

Gillian Slovo was born on 15 March 1952 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her family moved to London in 1964, as political exiles.[1] Her family is Jewish.[2]

Slovo attended the University of Manchester, graduating in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in the history and philosophy of science, before working as a journalist and television producer.[1]


Slovo's novels were at first predominantly of the crime and thriller genres, including a series featuring the detective Kate Baeier, but she has since written more literary fiction. Her 2000 work Red Dust, a courtroom drama that explores the meanings and effects of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was made into a film of the same name released in 2004, directed by Tom Hooper.[citation needed]

Slovo's 2004 work Ice Road was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. The novel incorporates real events (the death of Sergey Kirov) with a fictionalised rendering of life during the Siege of Leningrad.[citation needed]

With Victoria Brittain, Slovo wrote the play Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, which was staged internationally in 2004.[3]


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 South African Communist Party leaders and figures in the anti-apartheid struggle who lived perilous lives of exile, armed resistance, and occasional imprisonment, which culminated in her mother's assassination by South African forces in 1982.[citation needed]

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. [citation needed]

English PEN presidency[edit]

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 against the killing of journalists in that country, alongside presidents of other PEN Centres and internationally prominent writers.[4]

Political views[edit]

In December 2019, along with 42 other leading cultural figures, Slovo signed a letter endorsing the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership in the 2019 general election. The letter stated that "Labour's election manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership offers a transformative plan that prioritises the needs of people and the planet over private profit and the vested interests of a few."[5][6]




Kate Baeier mysteries[edit]

  • Morbid Symptoms (1984)
  • Death by Analysis (1986)
  • Death Comes Staccato (1987)
  • Catnap (1994)
  • Close Call (1995)

Other novels[edit]

  • Ties of Blood (1989)
  • The Betrayal (1991)
  • Looking for Thelma (1991)
  • Façade (1993)
  • Red Dust (2000)
  • Ice Road (2004)
  • Black Orchids (2008)
  • An Honourable Man (2012)[8]
  • Ten Days (2016)[9]



  • Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country (1997)

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Gillian Slovo Biography –". eNotes. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  2. ^ "Jews in the News:Sarah Michelle Gellar, Julianne Margulies and Jake Gyllenh | Tampa Jewish Federation". Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom". Timeline Theatre. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  4. ^ Slovo, Gillian (3 February 2012), "'In Mexico, Reporters are Hunted Like Rabbits'", Author Author, The Guardian.
  5. ^ "Letters | Vote for hope and a decent future". The Guardian. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  6. ^ Proctor, Kate (3 December 2019). "Coogan and Klein lead cultural figures backing Corbyn and Labour". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Gillian Slovo - Literature". Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  8. ^ Clark, Clare (20 January 2012). "An Honourable Man by Gillian Slovo – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  9. ^ Doughty, Louise (10 March 2016). "Ten Days by Gillian Slovo review – a powerful response to the English riots". the Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  10. ^ "Burn Britain Burn: Gillian Slovo's The Riots". the Guardian. 22 November 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  11. ^ Brace, Marianne (12 June 2004). "Andrea Levy: Notes from a small island". The Independent. London. Retrieved 7 June 2009.
  12. ^ Ezard, John (6 January 2005). "Whitbread novel prize is double for Levy". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
  13. ^ Bury, Liz (3 December 2013). "Gillian Slovo wins Golden PEN award". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 May 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]