Review: John Updike's Terrorist - Suggested reading for GLACIAL READERS!!!

This is a review for people who read VERY slowly. Updike's Terrorist (from 2006) was a published book what I had on the go for about eight months.

I could've read it in a few sittings, but the thing is - and here's the thing, folks - the novel is populated with a handful of interesting, wonderfully-drawn characters so it's very easy to abandon for weeks at a stretch and return to without needing reminders.

Brilliantly-researched, featuring a gynandromorphic imam with a chip on his shoulder, teaching the eponymous (anti)hero - a young man fresh out of a New Joyzee high school - how to read the Quran. Rewarding stuff for any reader curious about Islam. The conversations between student and teacher at the mosque are so eruditely honed that I can say with complete certainty that Updike has forgotten all the stuff he must've learned in the course of his research. (Mainly because he died in 2009. RIP.)

The boy's mother - a single woman whose male-gaze descriptions vividly blah blah ahem-hem - conducts an affair with the boy's guidance counsellor, a married Jewish chap shy of retirement with an overweight wife, whose sister works as a gur'min employee under some kind of federal anti-terror czar. The boy's mom is a hobbying artist, a redheaded Irish Catholic. The boy's estranged father is Arab. So the boy embraces Islam, and gets a job at a company run by a Muslim family. Join the dots, folks.


Too much of the plot revealed already here! The writing is pretty damn good. It's all gripping stuff, and the kid's radicalization is more deft and subtle than a bear thieving a pic-a-nic basket at Jellystone Park*. YOINK! 

So there you have it: Very good stuff. I am arbitrarily awarding Up-a-dike's buke nine and a half out of eleven pic-a-nic baskets!

*Yogi Bear - if memory serves - does not feature in the novel.