For a few days in the summer of 2011 violence and looting erupted across England. It initially spread throughout London but didn’t end there. Soon in Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester cars were being set alight, shops were being looted and there were numerous stand off’s between the rioters and the police.
I remember driving in London during the riots and noticing the increased police presence and what looked like some of the residue of the riots including smashed shop windows and burnt out cars. I remember seeing the worst of what occurred many times as it was constantly repeated on the news. I remember consistently asking myself just one question…
Eventually the riots ceased and very quickly life for most of us moved on.
I quickly forgot about trying to answer my question about the riots. However this week I read a work of fiction based over a 10 day period when London rioted once more. A book which tells an interesting story but also explores the issues surrounding civil unrest in.
Let me tell you about Ten days…
Ten Days (21)
by Gillian Slovo
‘Ten days’ tells the story of a fictional London riot from the perspective of a number of key players.
A newly appointed Metropolitan police commissioner.
An ambitious and Machiavellian home secretary.
A mum who is part of the community where the riots start and is fighting to protect her daughter and her daughters best friend.
A policeman in the middle of the mayhem trying hard to keep control and maintain moral.
This approach allows the author to look at a number of interesting issues.
The book explores some the contributory factors which spark riots, provides an insight into why disenfranchisement is such a corrosive force as well as venturing into an exploration of the challenges of parenthood, the impact of political pressure on policing and how politics ‘played dirty’ might look.
I enjoyed Ten Days.
It’s well written and the format of following multiple characters means the pace of the story is consistently quick and the story never feels dull.
The only thing I’d suggest in constructive criticism is that it would have been interesting to have a key character who became actively involved in the riots as this would have provided the author with an opportunity to explore the motivations of a protagonist with active involvement in the violence and looting.
However, that minor point aside, Ten Days is worth reading especially if you like stories which explore how ordinary people cope in extraordinary situations.
You can pick up a copy of Ten Days here.