James Lovegrove reviews Osama in the Financial Times this week!
Osama is a surreal critique of our terrorism-haunted age. Joe, a Laos-based private eye, is hired to locate the author of a series of lurid pulp novels featuring a terrorist-mastermind hero called Osama Bin Laden. His hunt for the pseudonymous recluse Mike Longshott leads him to Paris, London, New York and finally Kabul.
As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that Joe’s world is not ours. Oblique hints are subtly stitched into the narrative. There is no Channel Tunnel, the World Trade Center has never existed and the fictional adventures of “Osama Bin Laden, Vigilante” seem to have been beamed in from elsewhere. But where?
Joe’s dreamlike search leads to a truth that the reader may already have begun to suspect, but the final revelation is well orchestrated nonetheless. Lavie Tidhar’s novel bears comparison with the best of Philip K Dick’s paranoid, alternate-history fantasies. It’s beautifully written and undeniably powerful.