Incendiary by Chris Cleave

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I am a woman built upon the wreckage of myself.

In an emotionally raw voice alive with grief, compassion, and startling humor, a woman mourns the loss of her husband and son at the hands of one of history’s most notorious criminals. And in appealing to their executioner, she reveals the desperate sadness of a broken heart and a working-class life blown apart.

About Chris Cleave

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Chris Cleave is the author of Incendiary and the #1 New York Times bestseller Little Bee. He lives with his wife and three children in Kingston-upon-Thames, England. Visit him at or on Twitter @ChrisCleave.
Published December 7, 2010 by Simon & Schuster. 260 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Incendiary

Kirkus Reviews

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A grieving widow and mother composes a letter to Osama Bin Laden.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Incendiary

Publishers Weekly

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An al-Qaeda bomb attack on a London soccer match provides the tragicomic donnée of former Daily Telegraph journalist Cleave's impressive multilayered

Jul 11 2005 | Read Full Review of Incendiary

The New York Times

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Chris Cleave Cleave's narrator is a working-class East End woman grieving over the deaths of her husband and young son in a terrorist attack at a soccer match, and the book takes the form of rambling letters to Osama bin Laden.

Aug 21 2005 | Read Full Review of Incendiary

The Guardian

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Incendiary by Chris Cleave 245pp, Chatto & Windus, £10.99 Is this really the moment to bring out a book which begins "Dear Osama ..."?

Jul 16 2005 | Read Full Review of Incendiary

Entertainment Weekly

Originally posted Jul 29, 2005 Published in issue #832 Aug 05, 2005 Order article reprints

Aug 03 2005 | Read Full Review of Incendiary

The Bookbag

(There are other, huge differences - a rather uncinematic strand is lost and replaced with an unnecessary new character.) This search is in the original too, of course, but the fact the film can find a very different stance to the story only shows how Cleave's experience working in psychology br...

Jan 25 2015 | Read Full Review of Incendiary

Reviewing the Evidence

It's a bit of a high wire act, requiring constant attention to the consistent tone of the letter writer's 'voice.' INCENDIARY, the new book by Chris Cleave, is a tour de force of the genre and the author revels in using a 237-page letter to Osama bin Laden as the vehicle for an exploration of gri...

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Cleave's writing is masterful in its understatement: the horror comes not from the vision of a jet careening into a skyscraper, but from the realization that a black stain on your child's stuffed rabbit is his scorched blood.

Jan 31 2017 | Read Full Review of Incendiary

Bookmarks Magazine

Even if Incendiary hadn’t eerily predicted the bombings on the London Tube (and hit British bookstores that same day), it would rank as one of this season’s novels to be missed at your own peril (unless you’re swearing by Michiko Kakutani, who deemed the book in poor taste).

Oct 15 2007 | Read Full Review of Incendiary

Chamber Four

Incendiary offers some strong characters and stronger narration, even if the plotting gets a little unbelievable and the themes are a little stale (to be fair, they weren’t nearly as such in 2005 when the book was published).

Mar 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Incendiary

India Today

The mother has to lose more to live, and Cleave gives a social context to her life by pulling off some smart satirical set pieces like Prince William's visit to a hospital or Petra's honest effort to reinvent the mother in Harvey Nichols clothes or Black's ritualistic martyrdom.

Aug 08 2005 | Read Full Review of Incendiary

The Blurb

A bookseller friend of mine is often mocking me for having highbrow, literary taste, and it's fair to say that whilst we both love books we seldom seem to love the same ones (we once had a big disagreement about The Book Thief).

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Culture Mob

Welsh’s books are written phonetically to accurately capture the quirks and rhythms of Scottish diction, and Cleave has achieved a similar effect in his work, reproducing perfectly the native patterns of speech as well as the parochial and often pessimistic view of life that is so typical of the ...

Jan 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Incendiary

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