Thommy Ford Reads

A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

Osama by Lavie Tidhar


Lavie Tidhar’s Osama won the 2012 World Fantasy Award for best novel, beating out both Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and George R.R. Martin’s Dance with Dragons.

I read a number of reviews, publisher descriptions, and blurbs about Osama before picking it up, and found myself thinking “Boy, that’s a lot of pre-reading, and I still have no clue what to expect when I actually open to page 1.” Well, now here I am about to write a short review and realizing I don’t have any inkling how to start describing it without rambling on and giving too much away. And maybe that’s the best description possible: hard to sum up.

It’s an alternate history novel set in a world where political terrorism simply doesn’t exist.  But where the idea of terrorism is explored in a trashy, Fu-Manchu-like pulp fiction series called Osama Bin Laden: Vigilante. Our narrator is Joe, a noir type detective, hired by a mysterious, beautiful woman to investigate the nominal author of the Osama Bin Laden pulps, Mike Longshott. We follow Joe on his journey from Vietnam to Paris to London in search of Longshott, and encounter a world subtly different from our own. It’s a world with some surprising layers and some moving, mind-bending twists.

The novel is fast paced at times, contemplative at others. It has political elements, but seems to be about something bigger than politics. It’s heady stuff, but has a strong emotional pull to it.  It’s certainly not for everyone, yet seems to have something for thriller readers, SF readers, and literary fiction types alike. So, once again, kind of hard to sum up, but well worth the effort for any of our more adventurous readers out there. I personally think it’s one of the best alternate history novels I’ve read in a long, long time.

Review by Matthew

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This entry was posted on December 18, 2012 by in Book Review, Fiction, Science Fiction.
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