I’ve been avoiding reading Osama for a while, as I didn’t really feel tempted by the summary, but I ended up picking it up in the library — because that can never hurt! — and really enjoying it, as it happens. Rather more than the books that Lavie Tidhar wrote for Angry Robot, actually, even though superficially they might seem more up my street.
I think a fair amount of the trouble people have reading this is that they’re expecting the wrong thing. A classically noirish detective story, a thriller, something solidly science fictional that deals with multiverses… but it’s none of those things, or not only those things. It borrows some of the trappings of each: the protagonist is a detective in a classic noir style; there are excerpts that’re meant to be from a thriller; there are at least two parallel universes, it seems…
Going into this as I did, without too many expectations, let me enjoy it a lot. Each chapter is short, so it ended up flying by, and while others complained about the metaphors and imagery, I actually enjoyed it a lot. Borrowing from a genre that gave us “shop-worn Galahad”s and the like, I don’t think the writing style was out of place at all.
It’s much more quiet, meditative, than most noir-ish things, though. Although the character is in many ways insubstantial, that’s kind of the point. If you’re looking for a thriller, this ain’t it: though there’s plenty of violence and mystery and so on, really it’s more about an internal journey.