‘Londoners are more political’: Cityread novel inspired by 2011 riots explores rebellion and protests

The riots that tore through London in 2011 have inspired a political thriller novel that has been chosen as part of a city-wide reading project this month.

Gillian Slovo’s 14th novel, Ten Days, has been selected to headline the 2016 Cityread London campaign, an annual literary celebration that aims to bring the capital together with one book.

Speaking to SWL after a Richmond Old Town Hall book reading the 64-year-old author said she was inspired to write the novel after working on Riots, a play that explores why ordinary people are driven to acts of rebellion.

South African Gillian said: “There is still a lot about riots and protests in London at the moment.

“It seems like overtime I go into a library I see there has been another talk about the subject and I think that is why Cityread chose my book to lead their campaign.”

London’s libraries are no stranger to acts of dissent after more than 40 campaigners occupied Lambeth’s Carnegie Library earlier this month in protest of its closure.

This is part of the reason why Cityread founder Andy Ryan believes Gillian’s book will resonate with modern Londoners.

She said: “Gillian’s book is so relevant to what is going on in London right now.

“I think Londoners, more than people in any other city, are quite political and it is interesting to ask them to tackle a challenging topic like rioting.”

Now in its fifth year the Cityread project aims to encourage more people to take an interest in their local libraries.

Using Gillian’s novel as a starting point, Cityread creates a month-long programme of events across London to encourage people to engage with the book.

Gillian said: “It is a privilege to have my novel selected for this year’s Cityread programme, not least because it celebrates public libraries which are so important to communities both new and old.”

This year’s centrepiece is an interactive digital installation, Stories from the Streets, which is on display at Foyle’s Gallery in Charing Cross.

Andy said: “I hope it will allow the people of London to share their opinions and the challenging themes raised by Gillian’s book.”

Picture courtesy of Nico Hogg, with thanks

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