Terrorist – John Updike

John Updike was one of our greatest living authors. He died in January.

Updike chose to write an important book on an important subject.

The central character is age-18, the son of an Egyptian exchange student who married a working-class Irish-American girl. The young man agrees to become a suicide bomber for Allah. He will blow up the Lincoln Tunnel under the Hudson River in New York.

Of course the novel is skillful. Insightful.

I learned more about Islam from this short novel than from anything else I’ve ever read.



I’d read other Updike books and expected not to enjoy this one.

Like most Updike novels, most other literature, this book is depressing. With a very negative world view.

American culture in the eyes of a devout Muslim is disgusting. (The terrorist has some very good arguments.)

The ending surprised me. It was not what I expected.

That surprise redeemed the book for me. Somewhat.

I still don’t recommend you read Terrorist, unless you want to better understand what might motivate an intelligent, thoughtful fellow human being … to want to kill you.

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