Doubleday Canada, Limited, Jan 11, 2011 - 256 pages
At once a novel and an open letter to Osama bin Laden,Incendiaryis a shocking, hilarious, and heartbreaking debut that crashes head on into huge questions of right and wrong, good and evil, madness and sanity.
Incendiaryis 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 my account 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.
From the Hardcover edition.