BookBrowse Reviews Incendiary by Chris Cleave

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Incendiary

by Chris Cleave

Incendiary by Chris Cleave X
Incendiary by Chris Cleave
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2005, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2006, 256 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


A distraught woman writes a letter to Osama bin Laden. 1st Novel

From the book jacket: A distraught woman writes a letter to Osama bin Laden after her four-year-old son and her husband are killed in a massive (fictional) suicide bomb attack at a soccer match in London. In an emotionally raw voice alive with grief, compassion, and startling humor, she tries to convince Osama to abandon his terror campaign by revealing to him the desperate sadness—"I am a woman built on the wreckage of myself"—and the broken heart of a working-class life blown apart.

Comment: Cleave's first novel caused considerable controversy when it published in the UK last summer on July 7th - by terrible coincidence, the same day that four suicide bombers killed 52 people and injured hundreds of others in four separate attacks, three on the London Underground and one on a London bus (ironically, the campaign for Incendiary included glossy posters on the London Underground showing smoke rising about the skyline and the question, "What if"? - Londoners on the underground that day didn't have to ask, they knew).

The book's publication drew similar controversy when it published in the USA shortly after (for more about this see the sidebar) - as a result the USA post-publication reviews tend to be heavily skewed by personal events, with some apparently losing sight of the book itself.

The reviews below were written before the London bombing and thus, arguably, give a more balanced viewpoint. With regard to one reviewer's comment about the 'London slang' - it's certainly true that Incendiary is written in an informal British working-class style, but I think you'll find that the few words that maybe unfamiliar to you will be perfectly understandable in the context.

'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.' - PW.

'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.' - Library Journal.

'Like David Mitchell's Ghostwritten, Cleave's provocative debut will make readers a little uneasy - and that's okay.' - Kirkus Reviews.

This review was originally published in August 2005, and has been updated for the September 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...
  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

At once a love story, a history lesson and a beautifully written tale of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Strangers in Budapest
    by Jessica Keener

    Strong characters and a riveting plot combine in this psychological thriller set in Budapest.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.