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Osama: A Novel [Paperback]

Lavie Tidhar
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
Price: £5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

11 Oct 2012
In an alternate world without global terrorism Joe, a private detective, is hired by a mysterious woman to find a man: the obscure author of pulp fiction novels featuring one Osama Bin Laden: Vigilante... Joe's quest to find the man takes him across the world, from the backwaters of Asia to the European Capitals of Paris and London, and as the mystery deepens around him there is one question he is trying hard not to ask: who is he, really, and how much of the books are fiction? Chased by unknown assailants, Joe s identity slowly fragments as he discovers the shadowy world of the refugees, ghostly entities haunting the world in which he lives. Where do they come from? And what do they want? Joe knows how the story should end, but even he is not ready for the truths he ll find in New York and, finally, on top a quiet hill above Kabul nor for the choice he will at last have to make.... WINNER OF THE 2012 WORLD FANTASY AWARD.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Solaris (11 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781080763
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781080764
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 285,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The author of Osama is young, ambitious, skilled and original. Osama is an ingenious inversion of modern history: Osama bin Laden is the central character in a string of pulp novels allegedly written by one Mike Longschott. The terrorist crimes exist, in this novel, in a different realm...excellent, evocative and atmospheric. --Christopher Priest - Award-winning novelist and author of The Prestige

'An awesome book, dark, twisty alt-universe terrorist noir.' --Lauren Beukes, bestselling author of Zoo City

'Bears comparison with the best of Philip K Dick's paranoid alternate-history fantasies. It's beautifully written and undeniably powerful.' --Financial Times

About the Author

Lavie Tidhar was in Dar-es-Salaam during the American embassy bombings in 1998, and stayed in the same hotel as the Al Qaeda operatives in Nairobi. Since then he and his now-wife have narrowly avoided both the 2005 London, King's Cross and 2004 Sinai attacks experiences that led to the creation of Osama. He is the author of many novels, including the Bookman trilogy and is a prolific short story writer.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost a classic... 15 Jun 2013
his book pulls you in. Joe, a hard-boiled detective who lives on whisky, black coffee and nicotine, gets a visit from a mysterious young woman who asks him to find one Mike Longshot, an author of pulp fiction novels involving a character called Osama Bin Laden. She gives him a special black credit card as an upfront fee. The only known address for this author is a post-office box in Paris. On his way out of the office later Joe is shot at.

Joe's search for this mysterious author drives things as the action moves from Paris to London, and Joe is pursued and shot at again. Joe uses every trick in the detective's canon to evade those blocking his way, for example penetrating an opium den and later a private members club in Soho, where Longshot might be a member. Having worked in this part of London around the time the novel is set I found the reconstruction excellent.

Joe seems to be in an alternate Osama-free reality, and after one particularly violent incident, he sees a vision of the real London, where digital surveillance technologies bemuse him. One flaw in the novel are the short chapters from our reality which starkly report acts of real terrorism and do not read like excerpts from pulp fiction. An attempted scene set at a Mike Longshot 'fan convention' later in the novel grates because of this.

More seriously, there is an ending problem. This is chiefly due to the power that detective fiction generates towards closure. This novel has various 'closures' none of which really convince although one did strike me as having a superior rationale. As it stands, the novel halts instead of closing, which is a shame
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great page turner! 1 April 2013
By parry
Brilliant. Crime, politics, thriller, science fiction...all covered. Great page turner, feels like you are reading something new...like nothing you have read before. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bleeding edge noir 6 Feb 2013
This is not your standard crime noir novel. It is not a standard anything. Lavie Tidhar manages to deliver a book that doesn't just keep you thinking about it whilst you are reading but occupies your thoughts for a while afterwards. There are so many things happening on several levels that it takes a while to digest them all. I'm still not sure I fully understand it now. As cerebral as this story is it is thoroughly enjoyable and easy to read at the same time.

There is probably a rule somewhere that says you should avoid repetition of words. The word cigarette appears more times than I care to count. Rather than being a sign of poor writing it is a clue. Not one that is ever explicitly explained but the inference is there right at the end. This is the kind of thing that you will find throughout this book. It is certainly not the kind of book that explains itself every chapter.

On a simplistic level this is just a detective story. Joe has been tasked with finding Mike Longshott the author of a series of pulp fiction stories. These pulps portray Osama Bin Laden as a vigilante and leave the reader to decide whether he was a terrorist or a freedom fighter in an on-going war.

Joe finds himself crossing the world in search of Mike Longshott at the expense of his mysterious and beautiful client. The ease in which the author transports the reader to the various locations really brings the world to life. The use of opium to tie things together is very clever. Not just in the obvious sense of bringing things back to Afghanistan but you also have to think of the other reasons that opiates are important.

Overall this is a great read but one that you need to think about to really get the most out of it. It takes some chances and does some things that might not work in many books and works them in to a story of real substance (pun intended).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Powerful Novel 20 Nov 2012
After being intrigued by the concept of this novel, I decided to dive into the vivid and strange world it creates. I was very glad that I did, as this is one of the most powerful and memorable books I have read in a long time.

The book is a mystery story, in the vein of a noir detective novel. But, very cleverly, there are no absolute answers. What might have been a huge twist is hinted at throughout, letting the reader come to their own conclusions rather than waiting until the end of the novel and then revealing everything.

By creating a world where acts of terrorism are unimaginable, and even in the form of the subject matter for pulp novels are seen as shocking and unacceptable, the book holds up a mirror to the reader. We live in a world where terrorism is a real and, ultimately, accepted part of life. The book forces you to think more deeply about terrorism and the effect it has on its victims and our modern society. Some passages from the 'Osama Bin Laden: Vigilante' books that feature in the story remind you just how horrific real acts of terrorism are. Passages on the experiences of those involved in the attacks moments before their death are so hauntingly powerful that, after reading them, I had to just sit, staring at nothing. In those moments, I reconsidered the way that - having come so used to news reports of bombings and attacks - I have quietly accepted terrorism as part of modern life without truly coming to terms with the sorrow and pain it causes. For a book to make you re-think how you view the world is truly an achievement, and by constructing a fictional world without terrorism Tidman has found an original and intriguing way of doing so.
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