**1/2 Terrorist By John Updike The dangerous disaffection of youth.
Like many high-school seniors in New Prospect, New Jersey, Ahmad Mulloy is uncertain about his future. But with above-average intelligence and good grades, it's surprising when this son of an Egyptian exchange student (who abandoned the family when Ahmad was three) and an Irish-American nurse informs his guidance counselor that he has enrolled in truck-driving school. But Ahmad isn't training for a career in interstate commerce; instead, he's under the tutelage of Shaikh Rashid, a fundamentalist cleric who rails against the demonic West. As young Ahmad struggles against the temptations of American culture and his mixed cultural heritage, he edges closer and closer to committing an act of terrorism.
Knopf. 320 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0307264653
USA Today ****
"In no way has he jettisoned the elements that have defined his 21 previous novels: brilliant attention to detail, dexterous writing, a recognition that life and human beings are enormously complicated, and a willingness to write honestly about death, race, sex, class, money, growing old, and God." DEIRDRE DONOHUE
Baltimore Sun ***1/2
"It is, perhaps, a political statement to depict a terrorist-in-training as sympathetic, even likable.... The novelist calculates, correctly, that readers will make allowances for teens that we never would make for adults."
MARY CAROLE MCCAULEY
Boston Globe ***1/2
"Terrorist is an emotionally daring novel, gripping in its insight into the mind of a boy adrift in life who believes utterly in God, and thus by default in the manipulators who would perpetrate violence in the name of religion. It is also uneven: sometimes dull in its recitation of the author's research, with a couple of ludicrous plot developments that rob the novel of its ultimate punch." GAIL
Miami Herald **1/2
"In addition to Updike's scrupulous rendering of place, his novel teems with fully realized adult characters in Ahmad's orbit.... But the trouble with Terrorist is that these people in mid-life who ought to be supporting characters--given the terms of the story Updike sets into motion--prove more compelling than Ahmad or his radical Islamic mentors." ANDREW FURMAN
New York Times *1/2
"The would-be terrorist in this novel turns out to be a completely...