A novel of monumental quality; exploring the depths of human political greed and ambition, and the results of small misjudgements which lead to life-changing disasters. The ripple effects go far beyond the thrones of power to lap on the shores of the tenements of London.
The time-lapse progression of the ten days, moving across the characters of the ambitious politician, the new police commissioner, and dwellers of the decrepit Lovelace Estate, hold the reader’s attention like a vice. So much so, that you might want to reach through the pages and give this one a punch, and that one a hug.
A mentally challenged man, seemingly causing a disturbance, is unintentionally killed in the Estate by police over-reaction. A heatwave does not help the rising tide of anger at the ham-handed reaction by the police. Before too long the new Commissioner has to try and deal with a riot, flooding the Estate with personnel he can’t spare.
Using the situation to his advantage, an ambitious contender for the Prime Minister’s spot makes his move, regardless of the effects on the lives of those he uses to pull it off.
Cathy Mason is a woman in the Estate with a fourteen year old daughter. Their classic relationship is beautifully described: the love, sulks, trust, mistrust between a teenager and the only parent she knows rings a lot of bells with our experience.
Her lover, Banji, leaves her bed, and her life. Cathy catches a last glimpse of Banji as he tries to protect the fellow that died under a crush of police bodies. She used to know him, years back, also intimately. He left, then, too. Dark Benji, who came back into her life and then disappeared. A man she still thinks that she loves.
Now firmly on their radar, the police search for Banji ramps up, as the riots get out of hand and the Molotov cocktails fly. The Politicians make their nefarious moves and the Commissioner negotiates thin ice…
Neither the title, TEN DAYS, nor the muted cover design are attention grabbers; they are too gentle for the power of this tale.
Thanks to Penguin Random House South Africa for this review copy.
Published by Canongate, Edinburgh/London.