Born in London in 1964, author and activist Alon Shalev has always found ways to highlight social and political injustice. As a teen, he spent years campaigning for the Anti-Apartheid movement, the release of Jews from the Soviet Union, and the burgeoning green movement.
August 3, 2009 · 6:19 pm
In his early 20s, Shalev joined an idealistic and committed group to create a kibbutz, an egalitarian intentional community and remained a central member for twenty years.
Shelev would arrive in the US just as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita would devastate the Gulf Coast and its communities – just in time for Shalev to recruit and take students to New Orleans to help rebuild houses and communities in the area.
Shalev, who runs a non-profit that provides education and support for Jewish students on the campuses of San Francisco, lives with his wife and two kids in Berkeley, California, where for the last ten years he’s turned to writing novels to continue his work to change the world for the better.
In his first published novel, A Gardener’s Tale, Alev tells a story of the healing of family, land, and community cleverly fused with ancient European spirituality.
But it’s Shalev’s lastest novel, a legal thriller called Oilspill dotcom, that really got the attention of The LA Books Examiner.
In the book, Matt Fielding, a young, successful, and self-absorbed computer programmer – who couldn’t be more different than his author – is forced to address important social and political issues when his new girlfriend is suddenly arrested for libel against a huge oil conglomerate. Armed with love and computer skills, this unlikely hero utilizes the emerging Internet to transform himself from a carefree yuppie into a grassroots advocate, refusing to be silenced amid bribery, coercion, and espionage.
Based on the David and Goliath “McLibel” case in England in the 90s (it’s longest legal case in history) that captivated the political and business world’s attention, Oilspill dotcom uses humor and humanity to address issues surrounding globalization, the behavior of multinational corporations, and freedom of speech. More importantly, it promotes that idea that, with the right cause, anyone can affect change.
I met up with Alon recently and had some questions for him about his latest novel.
Read the interview with Alon Shalev at LA Books Examiner.