Incendiary by Chris Cleave
Late Spring Reads series.
This is an open letter to Osama Bin Laden from an unnamed Cockney narrator who becomes an indirect casualty of the terrorist bombing of an Arsenal football match, a game both her young son and husband were attending. She hears the explosion on the TV as she is in the middle of an adulterous encounter with a Daily Telegraph journalist, who was also supposed to be attending the game. The narrator demands that the journalist take her to the stadium where 1,000 football fans have been burnt to a crisp. She is injured and ends up in hospital, where she learns that the only thing left of her three-year-old son is his stuffed toy. The tragedy, however, binds the narrator and journalist into an odd relationship, which eventually includes his fashion writer girlfriend.
In the wake of this calamity, London is under strict curfew, Muslims endure open discrimination and harassment, and many Londoners are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which they ease with debauchery. Our narrator eventually becomes involved with a police officer from whom she learns that the tragedy could have been averted. Our narrator chooses to leak the tip to the press, which leads to her own demise and that of her journalist friends.
This is another powerful narrative about how tragedy affects everyone regardless of class and of the neurotic chaos that ensues. I liked this novel because it was taken from the perspective of a young working-class woman, who the author portrays respectfully.
As some of you may know, Chris Cleave is a columnist for the Guardian. Incendiary was his first novel.
Tomorrow's review will be of Going Down Swinging by Billie Livingston.
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