Terrorist (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
It has become a critical commonplace for reviewers to refer to John Updike as the chronicler of American life and values. For more than four decades his novels have reflected trends in the United States. In Terrorist, Updike turns his considerable talent for storytelling and social commentary to the most important topic of the nascent twenty-first century: the terrorist threats on American cities and citizens.
The story line focuses on Ahmad Ashmawy Mulloy, a teenager from northern New Jersey whose Egyptian father deserted Ahmad’s Irish mother when the child was very young. Readers learn early in the novel that Ahmad has studied Arabic with Shaikh Rashid, the imam at the small mosque he has attended since he was barely eleven. For years he has read the Qurՙn with Rashid and listened as the older Muslim preached against the vices of America and promoted the simple joys that come from following the Straight Path. It may be farfetched to believe that a boy not yet in his teen years could reject American values in favor of those he finds at the local mosque, but if one grants Updike this bit of literary legerdemain, the story that follows Ahmad’s decision to live out his faith becomes frighteningly logical.
The action of the novel opens in the spring of 2004, during Ahmad’s final weeks in high school. He has been a member of the...
(The entire section is 1920 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
The Atlantic Monthly 297, no. 5 (June, 2006): 114-117.
Booklist 102, no. 14 (March 15, 2006): 6.
New Criterion 24, no. 10 (June, 2006): 81-84.
The New Republic 235, no. 1 (July 3, 2006): 25-30.
New York 39, no. 20 (June 5, 2006): 71-72.
The New York Review of Books 53, no. 12 (July 13, 2006): 8-11.
The New York Times 155 (June 6, 2006): E1-E8.
The New York Times Book Review, 155 (June 18, 2006): 1-8.
Newsweek 147, no. 23 (June 5, 2006): 58.
Publishers Weekly 253, no. 15 (April 10, 2006): 44.
The Wall Street Journal 247, no. 142 (June 19, 2006): B1-B6.
(The entire section is 64 words.)