Incendiary

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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.  
                                                               

“A haunting work of art” – Newsweek

“A mesmerizing tour de force” – Washington Post

“Stunning” – New York Times

INCENDIARY won the 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, won the United States Book-of-the-Month Club’s First Fiction award 2005 and won the Prix Spécial du Jury at the French Prix des Lecteurs 2007.

‘Incendiary’ is an international bestseller, published in 20 countries.

127 Comments

  1. Chris, you are an original and brilliant writer! Thank you for the gift of your novels.

  2. First, I read “Little Bee” and thought you wrote beautifully, sensitively. Then I read “Incendiary” and think you must be brilliant as well as compassionate and creative. How you can write heartwrenching stories, make them into one individual’s amazing story so that the reader is drawn into it, is an incredible feat. No pat preaching or sappy emotion, these novels (especially ‘Incendiary’) make me wish I could write even half as well as you, even a quarter. I hope you have another book to follow.

  3. This book was a requirement for me to read for class, but it really wasn’t. To me a requirement is something that you are basically forced to do and reading lillte bee was not. I absolutely feel in love with this book. I just finished reading five minutes ago and then I saw this website address and went on my computer and now i’m leaving behind a reply. YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. It is so rich and full of details and creativity and by the way this book will give you goose bumps. I bet you never seen a person at a karaoke bar reading a book instead of singing well, I did it, but it was only because I couldn’t put it down for the fact that the book is amazinggggg!!!!! READ IT READ IT READ ITTTTT.

  4. As I strolled through Barnes & Noble last month, I was drawn to the cover of this book because I instantly recognized the silhouette of a girl of color. When I read the reviews by various news outlets, I still wasn’t convinced that I should buy it. But, since I hate going into the bookstore and coming out empty-handed, I bought Little Bee. This is by far one of the best novels I’ve read in a very long time. I just finished it and I want to start from the beginning – it was that good! My plan is to purchase Incendiary and download it onto my IPad tonight. The subject matter was deep in more ways than I thought it would be. The characters were real – nothing was sugar-coated. Pure, raw emotions came flying off the page and had me emersed as if I were there, but not seen. Please keep writing…

  5. Dear Chris,
    thank you for this fascinating story! For me it was first and foremost about how the personal and the societal destruction go hand in hand… without making things look nicer than they really are. I finished it in one go, and this happens so rarely :) Love your other books too; please give us more “wake up calls”, you do it so well!

  6. I was impressed with Little Bee. But I liked Incendiary even better. It is brilliant writing and spoke to me and moved me on so many levels. Anyone with a loving heart who has struggled with PTSD, just as a result of loss of a loved one, or even just a small trauma, should relate. There but by the grace of God go all of us.

  7. Hi Chris,
    I am always reading a book but I’m a fairly slow reader and don’t spend a lot of time reading each day–maybe one hour. A friend brought me Incendiary on Tuesday morning. I finished it this morning. It is probably without a doubt the most difficult book I’ve had to put down. I wish I could come up with the word. It just leaves you wanting more on every page. The humor is amazing. I’m laughing my head off and then realizing the situation is not funny and I shouldn’t be laughing. So, I feel ashamed of myself. Just kidding. It’s really mesmerizing. Maybe that’s the word I’m looking for. I just can’t quite come up with the right word.

    Sherryl

  8. Good day just read the other hand super but I was sad when alas no happy ending How can our nation be so unfeeling ??

  9. still do not understand what is at the end of the book. What happens to the end of the bee. I’m about to go nuts.

  10. Hi Chris
    Have just read Little Bee. I studied Fine Art and painted for 15 years and now have a 15 yr old daughter and 5 yr old son. I read quite a lot. I didn’t think I would find a writer that I enjoyed as much as Tim Winton, a local author here in Western Australia. You probably don’t know of him. I loved your book. I am almost obsessed with essence and the search for it. There is a lot of it in your writing. I tell my daughter that with painting it is important to keep the feeling alive and in all the marks that make up the painting or drawing that is being created. If all the marks have feeling and life then the work will have life. I think the same goes for words and writing. I work at our State Art Gallery and I can tell you that we have lots of dead paintings and’ artworks’. you write beautifully, clearly and with an unmistakable ring of truth. The four year old in your book tore my heart out. In fact all the characters were brilliantly and economically portrayed. I will definitely be reading Incendiary.
    Thanks for the heart and true intelligence.

    John

  11. I loved Incendiary so wise and funny and full of love.
    I raved about it on FB and several of my friends are going to download it onto their Kindle I am sure that they will love it too.
    It was wonderful to read such an authentic voice from working class London…where I grew up and worked among some of the most deprived people observing the lack of everything but love, the gentrification on the doorsteps of the poor, the willingness of the powers that be to sacrifice some sections of society to save others.
    I hope someone sent a copy to Osama……..

    Chris

  12. Hi Chris, I saw you a few years ago at the Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai. I had read The Other Hand which is why I wanted to see you for myself. During the discussion you spoke about Incendiary and I bought it after your talk. Some years on and I have recommeded Incendiary to all my book reader friends and family. Now Dubai Eye radio has asked me to go on their show as a Book Champion to talk about a book that changed my life. I have chosen to talk about Incendiary. I am re-reading the book again and this time taking notes and doing some research so I can represent your wonderful novel as it should be represented. I’ll let you know how I get on! Sarah x

  13. Hi Sarah, great to hear from you! Thank you very much for your enthusiasm for the book – it means a lot to me that it means something to you. And thank you for doing the Dubai Eye show. Please say hello from me to the wonderful books community in Dubai. I loved being there in 2010 and I will be back next year for the Festival, which I’m already looking forward to. All good wishes – Chris.

  14. There are no words to describe this book. It completely changed my life. The way she talks, the way she describes everything and the way she’s writing a letter to Osama… it just all blew me away. I’m reading ‘the other side’ now and I’m just as touched by that book. Somehow you manage to capture everything with a perspective I otherwise would never have seen.You have become my favourite writer and I will be the first to buy your next book. Lots of love and luck, keep the amazing work going Chris!!
    F

  15. I just finished Incendiary. It’s been a long time since a book has affected me so deeply, messing with my emotions and forcing me to question my perceptions. Thank you for writing this book. No question, Little Bee is next on my reading list.

  16. i was drawn by the cover of your book in my local chapters store (toronto) (little bee’s profile)…that was yesterday and just finished the book…had to read to find out the end of the story…beautiful writing and therefore will definately be passing it on to my friends for their enjoyment…looking forward to reading your other novels…

  17. Hi Pauline – thank you for reading the book. Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for passing it on!

  18. Hello! I am a college student in the US and I just finished reading Little Bee. I don’t read much but for some reason I was deeply drawn to this book. I was so inspired while I read that I told my best friend about and she got a copy. We finished the book together and spoke a lot about the beautiful words and raw emotions that were throughout the book. It was great reading it together so now we want to start a book club and I want your other novel to be our first endeavor! So many people keep asking about the book but in order to not spoil the magic, as you insist on the back cover, I tell them that they must read it and discover the story on their own. Please, please keep writing and I very much hope that Little Bee will be made into a movie soon! Thank you for bringing such beautiful art into my summer vacation. God bless.

  19. Hi Madison, thank you for reading the book and for your very kind message, which means a lot to me. All the best for your book club. There are so many good books coming out at the moment, I guess you will be spoiled for choice. Something you might really get into if you liked LITTLE BEE is a semi-autobiographical novel by Vaddey Radner called IN THE SHADOW OF THE BANYAN which is coming out in August I think – http://www.vaddeyratner.com/ – I really liked that book. Also a superb forthcoming debut by Kevin Powers called THE YELLOW BIRDS. Or a novel by Cara Hoffman called SO MUCH PRETTY. So much good new stuff to read…

  20. I’ve just handed your book to someone else to read. They started at about 11am this morning and are now steamrolling away at it. I don’t think that there has ever been a book which is so hard to describe- the layers and layers of devices and plot diversions make the short book absolutely sensational. Every time I try to recommend it I know that I’m not doing it justice and desperately urge people to read it themselves. I read it for the first time when I lived in Malta about 4 years ago and have since started a degree in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary University of London- of all of the international texts I have read during this course, none have so deeply affected me and stayed with me- I even wrote about it in a paper dealing with the representation of London in Literature, Film and Art. The heroine is totally relatable despite experiencing an horrendous crisis which very few people would ordinarily be able to relate to or understand. It’s just incredible, so thanks and please write more.

  21. Hello! I finished reading Incendiary some short time ago and I must say that honestly, although at first I was enthused it was a wee bit uninteresting for me, not for it’s content but for how it’s written, it’s lack of commas, which at first vexed me a bit and her grammar errors to name a few. However once I saw beyond that I realized how deep it is which I love and honestly, the denouement of this novel is so intense, so strongly felt. It left me immobile, I must say that it’s meaning is so deep, it reached further in me than almost anything else I’ve ever read before as you continue reading you truly can understand just how much her husband and boy meant to her which is amazing how she ends up which I feel so believably tragic that it makes you want to be different, I honestly mean it and truly value novels which make me feel such emotions. I should honestly Thank you Chris! It was a wonderful experience it’s one of the best books I’ve read in my life (not any book is so amazing for me).

  22. Incendiary….amazing book, well written, great narrator, horrible situation but life goes on, doesn’t it? It really makes you look at everything differently. I would say, even, with more compassion.

    I read “Little Bee” first, for a book club, and then read this book. Wow- what a talented writer you are!

    Looking forward to “gold”

    Kind regards,

    Kathy

  23. I just finished Little Bee.Thank you for such a thought provoking book. I am still digesting how I feel about it. I was able to choose it out of my friends, newly installed, Little Free Library. I was thrilled to find it there as I was a giver on World book night and I hope to read all the books I haven’t read on the list before next year! I have the oppurtunity to add four suggestions for new books for next year. Perhaps I will get to read Gold and suggest that!

  24. A friend from the us sent me little bee and I loved it! So I got incendiary which I found incredible! I’m Italian, so it took me a while to get accustomed to the style, but once I got the hang of it it was perfect! I’m going to send it to my friend in California!

  25. Hallo Chris
    I read ur book Other Hand. Ur command of English language is excellent. They say the pen that can make u laugh is the strongest pen of all (this days laptop). U have that. Bit confusing though that Little Bee and Sarah are sort of talking in first person. What happened to her? Is she laughing because she is really happy or she thinks she has a future? Could u shed some light on that. I will read all of ur books soon.
    Best wishes
    Saleha Chowdhury

  26. Hi Chris,
    Each one of your book are very special for me and they provied me to look at the world in a diferent way. It makes me so happy to see people like you doing such beautiful things and I think we’re not telling this as much as you deserve.
    P.s: Please keep writing!

    J X

  27. Hi Jan – thank you very much for your kind words, which have really picked me up today! All good wishes – Chris.

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  1. Wednesday’s PB&J Time! « Books in the Burbs - [...] So, it’s a definite TBR.  I also saw that Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee, wrote Incendiary, which I …

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