Osama — book review

OSAMA by Lavie Tidhar. PS Publishing £19.99

Reviewed by Jay Eales

Can you fictionalise a real-world bogeymen like Bin Laden without trivialising things? Dash it all, I think you can! Everyone has their 9/11 story, I think. I was delivering a washing machine, and they happened to have the TV on when I arrived, and we all just gawped. My cousin’s first foreign holiday saw him posing for photos on top of the World Trade Centre, and three days later, it was no longer there. Our world has irrevocably transformed in small and large ways since then. Some you notice, and some you don’t.

Tidhar shows us a world with an Osama-shaped hole. Nothing so mundane as a what-if scenario where life kept on track, but an alternate reality where metafictional worlds bleed across and echo with the one we’re more familiar with, much as Watchmen did with its pirate comics and Gunga Diners. Osama presents the reader with a mystery, though not a convoluted one, dressed in finest noir. As with so many stories, the destination is not the important part, but the travelling. As Joe searches for the mysterious author of the Bin Laden: Vigilante pulp novels, there’s an ever-present feeling that whatever the truth is, when he gets there, he’ll wish he hadn’t.

Add to this the presentation of the book, courtesy of PS Publishing. Already with a deserved reputation for handsome editions, Osama stands among their very finest.