Improvised Explosive Device is a startlingly innovative exploration of extremism, hate crime and violence by poet Arji Manuelpillai. In this powerful and unsettling first collection, Manuelpillai presents a vision of the contemporary haunted by Melville’s image of the whale – the terror beneath the surface of the sea. His uncompromising focus on violence is laced with gallows humour and the surreal, framed against the mundane detritus of modern life: two boys playing Mortal Kombat; a field of old trainers; the lonely glare of laptop light; a suspicious looking package in the back seat of a van.
The poems in Improvised Explosive Device emerged through research and interviews with academics, sociologists, and former members of extremist groups and their families – from the English Defence League and the National Front to ISIS and the Tamil Tigers. These complex, unnerving texts ask a series of important questions. What drives a person to commit a radical act of violence? How is that violence mediated through screens and social media? And how does the British government police marginalised groups? Improvised Explosive Device is a brave, surprising and risk-taking book; it will change the way you look at the world.
“Refusing glib analysis and easy answers, Improvised Explosive Device is a work of radical empathy, fuelled by honesty and compassion, both for those stirred to violence against minorities, and those who suffer from it.” Rishi Dastidar
“The project of Arji Manuelpillai’s Improvised Explosive Device leans into the mighty disciplines of poetry, sociology, and reportage to formulate an arresting debut which contests the ways we’re conditioned to internalise notions of terrorism, nationalism and belonging…a bold and startling new work.” Anthony Anaxagorou