Interview: Lavie Tidhar, author of The Bookman Histories and Osama

Lavie Tidhar is the author of numerous short stories, The Tel Aviv Dossier, The Bookman Histories series, and most recently, Osama. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of my questions, so please welcome him to the blog!

Lavie, your newest novel, Osama, won the 2012 World Fantasy Award! Did you do anything to celebrate?
Well, it was all a bit of a blur! But I went for a really nice meal with my publishers. Then I spent something like 36 hours awake as I flew back to the UK, did four telephone interviews back to back, caught up on e-mail and passed out. Oh, and I had to smuggle H.P. Lovecraft through Customs!

Will you tell us a bit about the novel?
It’s an “existential thriller” – at least that’s my term for it! It’s about a private detective called Joe who is hired to find the obscure pulp writer of the Osama bin Laden: Vigilante series. And what happens to him as he begins to unravel the mystery around who he is and the nature of his world.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about your background?
I think I did! Weird, isn’t it. I grew up on a kibbutz in Israel and have since lived, well, in various places – South Africa, Malawi, Vanuatu, Laos, and the UK. I’m back in London now, which is the city I probably feel most at home in.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
I think Philip K. Dick is an obvious influence on Osama – which is a book actually heavily shaped by film, for several reasons. I’ve been very inspired recently by the works of Israeli writer Shimon Adaf. I’ve never been a huge H.P. Lovecraft fan, which is ironic, as he’s currently glaring at me from the bookshelf!

If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
That’s a really good question. I don’t know. Maybe Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, though I keep re-reading it every few years and enjoying it just as much. It’s a wonderful book.

What are you reading now?
I just got a Kindle, so I was catching up on some older books I never read before – William Hope Hodgson’s The Ghost Pirates, Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale (the first James Bond novel – and what a strange book it is!), some very early P.G. Wodehouse stories. And I’m just going to start another Susanna Gregory mystery – I love her books.

When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Free time, yeah… right. Well, no, actually I probably spend a fair time cooking – it’s very relaxing! And right now, coming to the end of the year, I’m catching up on reading . Reading and beer… though not together!

It’s been quite a year for you with not only the World Fantasy Award win for Osama, but also a British Fantasy Award win for Best Novella with Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God! What’s ahead for you in 2013?
Quite a lot! There should be at least one, and possibly two, new novels out next year, some short stories, hopefully some other stuff – it’s all in a bit of a flux at the moment, if you ask me again in a couple of months I’ll hopefully be able to say more!
Keep up with Lavie: Website | Twitter
Purchase Osama: Amazon| B&N | Indiebound

About Osama:
In a alternate world without global terrorism Joe, a private detective, is hired by a mysterious woman to find a man: the obscure author of pulp fiction novels featuring one Osama Bin Laden: Vigilante…Joe’s quest to find the man takes him across the world, from the backwaters of Asia to the European Capitals of Paris and London, and as the mystery deepens around him there is one question he is trying hard not to ask: who is he, really, and how much of the books are fiction? Chased by unknown assailants, Joe’s identity slowly fragments as he discovers the shadowy world of the refugees, ghostly entities haunting the world in which he lives. Where do they come from? And what do they want? Joe knows how the story should end, but even he is not ready for the truths he’ll find in New York and, finally, on top a quiet hill above Kabul—nor for the choice he will at last have to make…In Osama, Lavie Tidhar brilliantly delves into the post-9/11 global subconscious, mixing together elements of film noir, non-fiction, alternative history and international thriller to create an unsettling—yet utterly compelling—portrayal of our times.WINNER OF THE 2012 WORLD FANTASY AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL.

“An awesome book, dark, twisty alt-universe terrorist noir” – Lauren Beukes, author of Zoo City

‘Bears comparison with the best of Philip K Dick’s paranoid, alternate-history fantasies. It’s beautifully written and undeniably powerful.’ – The Financial Times

‘A strange, melancholy and moving refl ection, torquing politics with the fantastic, and vice virtuosically versa.’- best selling author China Miéville


  1. Great interview! Congrats to Tidhar for winning WFA for Osama. The Tel Aviv Dossier was my first Tidhar, and I’ve been keeping my eye on him ever since.

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