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Red Dust

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  341 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Red Dust follows Gillian Slovo's remarkable memoir Every Secret Thing. The novel tells the story of what happens to Smitsrivier, a small town in the Karroo when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission comes to visit. Sarah Barcant, a successful prosecutor now living in New York is summoned back to help her former mentor discover what happened to a young black activist, Ste ...more
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published October 19th 2000 by Virago Press Ltd (first published 2000)
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(showing 1-30)
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Gillian Slovo's Red Dust is a gripping novel with the emotional pace and intensity of a thriller.

Sarah Barcant, now a top New York lawyer, is called back to her home town Smitsrivier by her old mentor Ben Hoffman as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) comes to town. The now frail Hoffman enlists her to help a grieving elderly couple to find out where their son Steve is buried.

Slovo skillfully brings to life the town and its people - Sarah, Ben and his wife Anna, Alex Mpondo (former t
Jonathan Thijs
Oct 05, 2015 Jonathan Thijs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
I think this is a very good drama novel, it’s well-written and it shows you how deep racism actually goes. It isn’t just discriminating people, which is already bad, but it was even torturing people, which is unbelievable in our point and time. It’s awful to see how people’s lifes are infected by traumas and memories even in the present. And this book shows you how hard it actually is to accuse someone of something you are almost certain that’s true, but where is just not enough evidence for, an ...more
Feb 16, 2012 Katty rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2012, reviewed
Important topic, poorly written novel. The ideas are compelling, but the writing and style of the book fell flat. Gillian Slovo may have a personal connection to the subject matter, but her sloppy execution of Red Dust makes the topic of post-Apartheid South Africa unappealing. I'd be interested in reading literature about the Apartheid from a skilled author.
Oct 06, 2012 Tessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a powerful novel dealing with the complexities of truth and reconciliation, set in South Africa. The author is the daughter of activist parents who fought against Apartheid in South Africa. I highly recommend this novel. Now, I am very interested in reading her memoir.
Feb 04, 2008 Patrick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
An interesting portrait of post-Apartheid South Africa, if somewhat bleak.
Feb 17, 2013 Baljit rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The search for the truth does not neccessarily lead to justice, it evokes painful memories and does not offer redemption. i found the subject intersting, but the prose rather dull.
Apr 18, 2012 Esther rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa
A stirring novel, possibly but not explicitly based on true events.
The Truth and Reconciliation Committee in South Africa has come into being in 1996.
In this case, they are trying to disclose the events after the arrest of two black “revolutionaries” in 1985, one sure crime having been torture, which for one man is believed to have resulted in his death.

Eventually, it seems less a question of what really happened to whom, and more a question of who has an interest in telling the truth, and whic
Jun 09, 2011 Jeruen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book took me to South Africa. This is about an amnesty trial between a former interrogator and a former victim, where the former interrogator seems to know something about the death of another victim, that happened more than a decade ago. And there are multiple parties involved, trying to uncover what really happened in the summer of 1985.

Being that this book was written with an omniscient narrator, the reader had full access to what really happened, and the focus shifts from the happening
Nov 14, 2008 Fiona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Red Dust is a fantastic, page turning court room drama set in South Africa.

The murder of Alex Sizela in 1985 has been left unsolved and the body unfound. Sarah Barcant flies from New York back to her childhood hometown to help her friend and mentor find some sort of peace for Alex's grieving parents.

Dirk Hendriks, an ex-policeman now prisoner, has filed for amnesty as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Alex Mpondo, Dirk's old torture victim, and friend of Alex Sizela reluctantly r
Apr 27, 2009 Crystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 2000, this novel set in post-Apartheid South Africa is amazingly relevant to today's discussions of torture. Questions about the morality of torture, the efficacy, the effects on the torturer and the tortured, the bond formed between them, can they move on? forgive and be forgiven? how does the country move on. Even a discussion of something that sounds a bit like water boarding and also the stripping of the prisoners to humiliate. The book is really about the attempts of the charac ...more
Dec 13, 2012 Betty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this after hearing Gillian Slovo interviewed on the BBC World Book Club. Slovo's personal history -- her parents were anti-apartheid activists, and her mother was murdered -- gives her a unique perspective on contemporary South Africa. Set in a small South African town during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, the novel makes the reader go beyond the clichés and think about the meaning of justice, truth, and reconciliation in the context of oppression, torture, and death, a ...more
Tiva Quinn
Aug 06, 2012 Tiva Quinn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I loved the movie & could tell it must have come from a really good book.

Usually I'd give it a year or more to forget some of the plot before reading the book, but I stumbled on Red Dust at a yard sale, and once it was in my house I couldn't resist picking it up.

The writing, plot and characters are so strong that it didn't matter very much if I already knew what was coming. And in this case, even if you've seen the movie, there are still a few big surprises left at the end of the book.

Jan 19, 2008 Shelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gillian Slovo's mother was killed by "revolutionaries" in South Africa during Apartheid. Her dad sat on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and had to determine whether or not his dead wife's killer was motivated for political reasons. This story is not autobiographical, but explores what happens when the Truth Commission comes to town and how that helps or hurts a community deal with/get over a tragic time period. I highly recommend this book. It's also a courtroom thriller.
Sorayya Khan
Oct 22, 2012 Sorayya Khan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gillian Slovo has written a courtroom drama which brings apartheid victims and a deputy police chief together during the Truth and Reconciliation process in a make believe South African town. It's a quick read, chilling in parts. While the Truth Commission of the post-apartheid South Africa is full of possibility, Slovo admits the cynicism of the process, leaving me with much to consider.
Oct 28, 2008 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When we read this book in class we focused on how the victim and the torturer become one in their ability to understand each other without words. It was a powerful novel about the apartheid in South Africa.
Adrian Hyde
Oct 02, 2014 Adrian Hyde rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A New York lawyer returns to her home town in rural South Africa to take part in a Truth Commission hearing. The plot twists and turns and is far from predictable. One of the best books I have read this year.
Jun 30, 2009 Hasit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good insight into the Truth and Reconciliation Commision
Nov 20, 2009 Peggyl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Woman leaves New York because she is called back to South Africa by her aging mentor. Good book. There is some brutality and it gets into the psychology of torturers and their victims.
Gerry Bruin
I don't normally like to read politically orientated books...this book is/was good.
Mar 20, 2011 Yvonne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book a while back because I saw the movie and it was an eye opener for me. But this book was far more honest and intense.
Feb 07, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
''Red Dust'' weaves a tale of secrets, betrayal, murder, and redemption as a country comes to terms with it's violent past.
Feb 17, 2017 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
By far one of the best books I’ve ever read. It will leave you haunted long after you’ve turned the last page.
Jul 12, 2010 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
For those that want to learn more about the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa.
Sep 13, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fine novel, but if you really want to read about the Truth Commission, read Country of My Skull.
Bongeka Tsekiso
Strong. Controversial. Enlightening
Mar 03, 2012 kp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A griiping and moving novel, part legal thriller and part contemplation of the nature of evil, including evil instituitionalized. Great read.
Sarah Lay
interesting mystery/thriller based around South Africa's Truth Commission/
John Clare
John Clare rated it it was ok
Oct 29, 2014
Booknblues rated it really liked it
Jun 05, 2017
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Novelist Gillian Slovo was born in 1952 in South Africa, the daughter of Joe Slovo, leader of the South African Communist party, and Ruth First, a journalist who was murdered in 1982.

Gillian Slovo has lived in England since 1964, working as a writer, journalist and film producer. Her first novel, Morbid Symptoms (1984), began a series of crime fiction featuring female detective Kate Baeier. Other
More about Gillian Slovo...

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