John Updike aims to shape the pastiche portrait of the homegrown terrorist (a la Richard Reid, John Walker, even Timothy McVeigh) into something psychologically rich and artistically profound. A lesser writer would have stumbled into threadbare stereotype, but Updike is up to the task, and his novel about Ahmad Mulloy Ashmawy, an angry 18-year-old who falls under the sway of a fundamental Islamic leader, simultaneously captures the seething rage of the alienated youth, and provides a vivid window into a world of shame, hate, and outlandish schemes that could, eventually, come to catastrophic fruition.
Pros: A look into a Muslim mind which is scarily close to real Cons: So many wasted characters and sideplots The Bottom Line: It's captivating and as close as you can get to seeing a Muslim's mind without actually becoming a Muslim Chances are that unless Ive missed something somewhere, John Updike was never a Muslim. That fact makes his achievement with Terrorist very remarkable. Terrorist is spent almost entirely within … more