2016 Character Profiles


Black male, six feet three, bald and broad-shouldered. On medication for unspecified mental disorder. Often spotted in and around Lovelace Estate with hoodie repeating the words ‘Option. Action. Traction. Mischief.’ Struggled with self-control around strangers and violent reactions to aggressive behaviour. Local teams report he was well-loved by the Lovelace community.

What do you think?

Read the extract and listen to the audio

Can fiction help us see the world from a different perspective?

What others say

Whitton Wednesday Reading Group:
Yes it can. Each character can give a different view on the same event, particularly in a book like Ten Days, where there is such a diversity of social, ethnic and religious characters, including the author herself.

Bushy Park Readers (Hampton Hill):
Yes. It can enable us to take on the point of view of a person or people with very different circumstances and views from our own. This can inform our judgements about past events and help us to approach new experiences with a more open mind. We experience vicariously through Cathy’s eyes what it is like to live on an estate such as the Lovelace; we can identify with the disaffected community and understand the pressures which led to the riots and the excitement and fear while taking part.

Richmond Reading Group (3rd Wednesday):
Definitely. That is why we read. Insights into people/events we wouldn't otherwise encounter.

Castelnau Reading Group:
'The book certainly helped to see the world through all kinds of nationalities and backgrounds’
‘I felt a great empathy with the protestors and it made me think about the real life rioters in the recent London riots in a much more sympathetic way’

Whitton Reading Group:
Fiction helps the reader see an event/happening from another interesting angle or point of view - perhaps an angle they have never though of previously. This gives an insight/enlightenment which in its turn could cause a change of mind or, of course, maybe reconfirm the original point of view.

Annie's Reading Group (Kew):
Yes, especially if it is about subjects not known to the reader. The reader has to have an open mind and be accepting. Reading different books on different subjects does extend knowledge and give a different perspective.
Fiction can create a contrast between the ideas of author and reader. The bigger the contrast the more likely it is the reader will be challenged into rethinking their perspective.


To what extent do you think we need to empathise with people in order to understand their motivations?

What others say

Hardbackers Reading Group (Redbridge Central Library):
We think that you need to empathise with people to understand their motivations. But it's hard to empathise if you haven't shared the same situation as them, or share similar interests, or had similar experiences. For example noisy neighbours; if you've also had them, you can understand others' motivations or actions - or lack of!


Riots across the world often occur on hot days. Have you seen the weather spark social or political action?

What others say

Read the extract and listen to the audio

How does the description of Ruben’s death contrast with the description of the riot police on the front line and those in the control room?

What others say


What is your impression of the police in this story? Describe an experience where this impression has changed for better or worse in real life, and how the book compares.

What others say


This Character is featured in...

Ten Days

It’s 4 a.m. and Cathy Mason is watching dawn break over the Lovelace estate. By the end of the day, her community will be a crime scene. By the end of the week, her city will be on fire.

In this gripping thriller by Orange Prize-shortlisted author Gillian Slovo, ten unpredictable days of violence erupt from a stifling heatwave. And, as Westminster careers are being made or ruined, lives are at stake. Ten Days is about what happens when politics, policing and the hard realities of living in London collide.

Listen to extracts from the book by visiting Audible’s dedicated channel on Soundcloud.

About Gillian Slovo

Gillian Slovo is a playwright and the author of thirteen books, including five crime novels, the courtroom drama Red Dust, which was made into a feature film starring Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and the Orange Prize-shortlisted Ice Road. She co-authored the play Guantanamo – Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, which was staged internationally. Her research for her play The Riots inspired Ten Days. Gillian Slovo was President of English PEN from 2010 to 2013 and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She was born in South Africa and lives in London.

More about the book