Terrorist(CD)(Unabr.) Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
Updike's latest offers up a probing post-9/11 history lesson on America—its mythology and street realities, religious attitudes, and the myriad nationalities that have borne this country fruit. Lane has his work cut out, and for the most part delivers. He contends with multiple foreign accents and American dialects, not to mention gospel singing and Arabic recitations of the Koran. The tale follows a righteous Muslim teenager named Ahmad, an (Irish-Arab) American born and bred in northern New Jersey, and his seemingly inevitable journey toward a domestic suicide attack. Ahmad's Irish mother, Jewish guidance counselor and Lebanese employer/handler are all rendered with distinction by Lane. But Ahmad's accent is odd and hard to trace, almost seeming to contain a Dixie influence. Lane voices an African-American schoolmate in similar style, creating the potential for confusion when the two interact. Phone calls, snippets of TV shows, speeches and sermons are treated with a through-a-speaker effect that is sometimes disconcerting. But it doesn't detract from a generally rich audio experience, one built on diverse narration and ethnically sprawling storytelling.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Updike is never static; over the course of his long career, he has not only mastered various literary forms but also tackled a wide variety of subjects as material for his fiction. His new novel, swift, sinewy, and stylish, represents another big leap. In the hands of a lesser writer, such a risky topic and premise easily could have come across as presumptuous. Ahmad, an 18-year-old high school student, is the son of an Irish American mother and an Egyptian father. He has taken up the Islamic faith of his father so completely that he is obsessed with distancing himself from the unclean infidel, which is how he views the New Jersey community in which he lives. The high-school guidance counselor, who attempts to steer young Ahmad in a direction he feels is more suitable and productive, is a compelling and oddly attractive supporting character, who, as it turns out, plays a vital role in a deadly plot into which Ahmad tumbles like the naive, easily manipulated adolescent he is. This marvelous novel can be accurately labeled as a 9/11 novel, but it deserves also the label of masterpiece for its carefully nuanced building up of the psychology of those who traffic in terrorism. Timely and topical, poised and passionate, it is a high mark in Updike's career. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Those are the thoughts of 18-year-old Ahmad, a student at a New Jersey high school. He appears to be a bomb waiting to go off - the son of an Irish-American mother and an Egyptian father who took off when the boy was three, he is devoted to Islam and has found a surrogate father in the imam who gives him instruction. It's not only his classmates that Ahmad disdains but also his mother and the string of boyfriends she dangles.
Updike points a chilling portrait of a would be terrorist and also causes readers to wonder why no one had evidently seen the signs of this boy's mind set. In the author's description one of the reasons he's bent on destruction is that he can't think of anything else to do after high school. Little reason for killing people.
No notice is taken when Ahmad suddenly evidences an interest in learning how to operate large trucks nor has anyone noted that the boy has never had a friend - male or female. One wonders if he ever longed to be a part of the high school crowd or go out with one of the girls he denigrates It is as if he has developed in a vacuum with only his hatred of American materialism to keep him company.
Terrorist is an eerie dissection of an obsessive mind, a troubling story yet a necessary one as it relates to our world today. Plus, in the hands of the master John Updike it is rich in elegant prose and descriptive passages so substantive that it seems characters may leap from the page.
- Gail Cooke
As I read John Updike's book, I kept thinking that this was a book designed to explain what doesn't appear to be the case . . . a native-born American becoming a terrorist who follows Islamic beliefs to pursue Jihad. From the beginning, the premise didn’t ring true. And the story itself rang even less true.
If you can get past that point, you still have to deal with Mr. Updike trying to describe something that's very different from his own cultural experiences. Mr. Updike seems to have worked hard at it, but again his depictions of the characters don't ring true to me.
Here's the story in a nutshell. A young man, Ahmad Ashmaway Mulloy, decides to identify with his absent father's Egyptian heritage while being raised by his round-heeled Irish-American mother with whom he doesn't feel very connected or comfortable. The identity becomes centered on practicing Islam. At the local mosque, he's encouraged to stop his education after high school to become a truck driver. Depressed guidance counselor, Jack Levy, tries to dissuade Ahmad, but only succeeds in becoming his mother's lover. Ahmad is introduced to the Chehab family, whose furniture store needs a new driver. Pretty soon, he's being sounded out for his feelings about Jihad.Read more ›
Too bad. It ruins what could otherwise be something worth talking about.