The ever-surprising John Updikes twenty-second novel is a brilliant contemporary fiction that will surely be counted as one of his most powerful. It tells of eighteen-year-old Ahmad Ashmawy Mulloy and his devotion to Allah and the words of the Holy Quran, as expounded to him by a local mosques imam.
The son of an Irish-American mother and an Egyptian father who disappeared when he was three, Ahmad turned to Islam at the age of eleven. He feels his faith threatened by the materialistic, hedonistic society he sees around him in the slumping factory town of New Prospect, in northern New Jersey. Neither the world-weary, depressed guidance counselor at Central High School, Jack Levy, nor Ahmads mischievously seductive black classmate, Joryleen Grant, succeeds in diverting the boy from what his religion calls the Straight Path. When he finds employment in a furniture store owned by a family of recently immigrated Lebanese, the threads of a plot gather around him, with reverberations that rouse the Department of Homeland Security.
But to quote the Quran: Of those who plot, God is the best.
John Updike’s controversial twenty-second novel has garnered reviews both positive and negative. All the prepublication reviews were generally positive, with starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist ("deserves the label of masterpiece"). Those that come down against the book generally don't do so because of the subject matter but because they feel that the voice of Ahmad lacks credibility. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The New Republic - James Wood
John Updike should have run a thousand miles away from this subject--at least as soon as he saw the results on the page ....
What is most striking about this novel is that, despite Updike's massive familiarity with the technical challenges of fiction-writing--this is his twenty-second novel, for goodness sake--he proves himself relatively inept at the essential task of free indirect style, of trying to find an authorial voice for his Muslim schoolboy.
The Boston Herald - Larry Katz
The fate of a famous New York landmark depends on the answer. To get it, you’ll have to spend many pages considering Koranic injunctions with Ahmad, whose frustratingly close-minded search for truth only confirms what we already suspect: There’s no fun in fundamentalism.
New York Times - Robert Stone
The last part of the novel is suspenseful. It brings together a serviceable plot, which leans a little heavily on coincidental connections, a questionable provocation and some broadly motivated acts of heroism. It seems meant as a fable, and any good fable requires some derring-do. The most satisfactory elements in "Terrorist" are those that remind us that no amount of special pleading can set us free of history, no matter how oblivious and unresponsive to it we may be. And that history, in disposing of empires, admits of no innocents and spares no one.
Starred Review. [Terrorist] deserves also the label of masterpiece...timely and topical, poised and passionate, it is a high mark in Updike's career.
Updike.... continues to entice, provoke and astonish.
Starred Review. Updike has distilled all their flaws to a caustic, crystalline essence.... his contempt for them enhances rather than spoils the novel.
Updike's always beautiful prose and his ever-probing imagination trace what happens when worlds collide.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Bob H. Never Read Updike Before I have never read Updike before. If this is his style, I will not read him again. I am struggling for the past week. I am on page 128. I am thinking. "C'mon already!"
Rated of 5
by Amilina This book is strange We've read the book in our class. It took a long time until we finished and it was horrible. Nobody in my class likes the book anyway. I've never read a book like this and I would have stopped reading the book after the first pages, but because of... Read More
John Updike is the author of more
than fifty books, including collections
of short stories, poems, criticism and novels. His
novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the
National Book Award, the American Book
Award, the National Book Critics Circle
Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the
The Ad are believed to be an ancient
Arabian people who became rich through
the production of frankincense and as a
trading point for spices from India.
The Qur'an says that the prophet Hud was
sent by Allah to the city of Ubar/Iram
(famed for its tall towers) to warn them
that the city would be destroyed if they
continued to worship multiple gods. The
people ignored the warnings and the city
was destroyed by a massive sandstorm.
In the early 1990s scientists studying
Charts a fascinating course through the sprawling land of Indonesia, where the home-bred Jemaah Islamiyah, Asia's answer to Al Qaeda, pursues its deadly ambition to create a Southeast Asia Islamic super-state.
Research shows that 90% of Americans value public libraries(Dec 11 2013) According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, about 90% of Americans aged 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an...