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Incendiary
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The extraordinary first novel from the author of THE OTHER HAND

About the Author

Chris Cleave is married with three children, and lives in Kingston-upon-Thames. He keeps a website at www.chriscleave.com and can be found on twitter.com/chriscleave.

Reviews

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 damaged by the experience. The author of the letter is a working-class woman whose husband and young son were killed in the blast. Afterward, haunted by visions of her son and other bombing victims, she teeters on the edge of reality, vacillating between hope and desperation. The narrator, whose name we never learn, goes on to develop a perverse relationship with an upper-class couple and take a job in the police department to help fight the war against terrorism. Graphic depictions of violence and gore accompany humorous reflections on life and class differences-an odd combination that makes for strangely compelling reading. Recommended for larger public libraries.-Sarah Conrad Weisman, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Stunning... a haunting work of art. - NewsweekChris Cleave has the ability to create moving and beautiful scenes within a terrifying backdrop. I couldn't put it down; it's subversive, thought-provoking and well-written. - Observer, Books of the YearRichly sardonic and often disarmingly poignant... How can one fail to be impressed and moved? - GuardianCleave's heroine is by turns funny, sad, flawed, sympathetic, both damaged and indomitable, and triumphantly convincing. - Sunday TelegraphStunning - New York Times AND International Herald Tribune AND Bookmarks MagazineThis is a compulsive read, sure to stir the dust - CITY AMSearing.. poignant and compelling.. Utterly believable and mesmerizing - NewsdayDark, tense and undeniably provocative - Metro

An al-Qaeda bomb attack on a London soccer match provides the tragicomic donnee of former Daily Telegraph journalist Cleave's impressive multilayered debut: a novel-length letter from an enraged mother to Osama bin Laden. Living hand to mouth in London's East End, the unnamed mother's life is shattered when her policeman husband (part of a bomb disposal unit) and four-year-old son are killed in the stadium stands. Complicating matters: our narrator witnesses the event on TV, while in the throes of passion with her lover, journalist Jasper Black. The full story of that day comes out piecemeal, among rants and ruminations, complete with the widow's shell-shocked sifting of the stadium's human carnage. London goes on high terror alert; the narrator downs Valium and gin and clutches her son's stuffed rabbit. After a suicide attempt, she finds solace with married police superintendent Terrence Butcher and in volunteer work. When the bomb scares escalate, actions by Jasper and his girlfriend Petra become the widow's undoing. The whole is nicely done, as the protagonist's headlong sentences mimic intelligent illiteracy with accuracy, and her despairingly acidic responses to events-and media versions of them-ring true. But the working-class London slang permeates the book to a distracting degree. Agent, Jennifer Joel at ICM. First printing 100,000. (Aug. 8) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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