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Knopf Publishing Group, Sep 1, 2006 - Fiction - 237 pages
3 Reviews
At once a novel and an open letter to Osama bin Laden, Incendiary is a shocking, hilarious, and heartbreaking debut that crashes head on into huge questions of right and wrong, good and evil, madness and sanity.
Incendiary is the story of a working class woman who likes her simple life: watching Arsenal matches on the telly with her husband and little boy, fishsticks for dinner in their small flat, the occasional trip to the pub.
One spring afternoon the woman, whom we know only by the nickname "Petal," watches her husband and their son head happily off to Ashburton Grove, Arsenal's brand new stadium, to see their favourite team play. A few hours later the horror of a terrorist bombing plays out on her television -- the bombing of Ashburton Grove.
"Petal" tells her own story in an extraordinary voice, one both desperate and sharply funny, speaking directly to the man responsible for the bombing. She shows the reader an incredible world, a London that is not quite real, in a time that is not quite our own. And as deeply enmeshed as the reader becomes in her reality, a tiny, persistent doubt begins to creep in about just what is reality and what is a manifestation of her griefstricken and distraught imagination.

"Dear Osama they want you dead or alive so the terror will stop. Well I wouldn't know about that I mean rock 'n' roll didn't stop when Elvis died on the khazi it just got worse. Next thing you know there was Sonny & Cher and Dexy's Midnight Runners. I'll come to them later. My point is it's easier to start these things than to finish them. I suppose you thought of that did you?
There's a reward of 25 million dollars on your head but don't lose sleep on myaccount Osama. I have no information leading to your arrest or capture. I have no information full effing stop. I'm what you'd call an infidel and my husband called working class. There is a difference you know. But just supposing I did clap eyes on you. Supposing I saw you driving a Nissan Primera down towards Shoreditch and grassed you to the old bill. Well. I wouldn't know how to spend 25 million dollars. It's not as if I've got anyone to spend it on since you blew up my husband and my boy.
--excerpt from Indendiary


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Cleave's auspicious debut takes the form of a woman's letter to Osama bin Laden. A suicide bombing at a London sporting event leaves the city gripped by fear: 1000 are dead and many more irrevocably ... Read full review

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Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 14
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18
Section 19
Section 20
Section 21

Section 9
Section 10
Section 11
Section 12
Section 13
Section 22
Section 23
Section 24

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About the author (2006)

Chris Cleave was born in London in 1973, and spent his earliest years in Cameroon, where his dad built the Guinness brewery. In 1991 he wrote a novel called The Roadkill Cookbook and went to Balliol College, Oxford, which he left with a First in Experimental Psychology. After having worked sailing yachts from the south of France to the Eastern Mediterranean for their owners and as a busboy in Melbourne, Australia, he returned to London and spent three years with The Telegraph. In 2000 he met Clémence. They moved to Paris, and he now divides his time between playing with his son Louis and writing a new London-based novel. Incendiary will be his first published book.

From the Hardcover edition.

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