Perspectives On A Terrorized World

A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny BombA new book by Amitava Kumar,  reviewed here in the NY Times, endeavors to shed a little more light on the 'global war on terrorism'. The clever title A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb is a play on Jewish author, Edmond Jabes' 1993 posthumous work entitled A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Book about perceptions, stereotypes, profiling of, in his case, the Jews. In Mr. Kumar's book, the focus shifts to Moslems. He aims to dispel some myths and uncover both subtle and blatant prejudicial behaviors which have had an  adverse affect on much of the common citizenry of Islam. In so doing, Mr Kumar cites many works of fiction that attempt to address a post 9/11 world; some successful, some not. There have been a number of books since the World Trade Center fell which have attempted to address the issue of religious stereotype or to elucidate the more human aspect of the fallout from the war on terror.

The Reluctant FundamentalistOne such book is The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. Told entirely in the second person to an American operative, over dinner. Hamid 's narrative reveals the slow descent of a young Pakistani immigrant in America as he becomes disenchanted with and disenfranchised from his adopted land. The author provides us with a unique perspective in the tolerance deprived, post terrorized 21st century. Another book, this one delving into Islam, Judaism, and the many religious sects within, is Robin B. Wright's Dream and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East. Here Wright explores the political and religious climate of the entire region, country by country (including Palestine). She provides much historical insight, necessary to fully comprehend the source and depth of unrest in the area. Along the same lines, only more focused in region and scope, is the collection of essays entitled, Fundamentalism Reborn?: Afghanistan Under the Taliban. Although written in 1996, this volume is relevant to the current volatile situation in the Near East. Various writers offer a portrait of the Taliban and Afghanistan from the inside out.

A Disorder Peculiar to the Country: A NovelFew fictional accounts besides the Reluctant Fundamentalist, chronicle the life of a terrorist. One title that comes to mind however is Terrorist by John Updike. In this novel, Ahmad Mulloy, a half Irish, half Egyptian teen from New Jersey is influenced to Jihad by the local imam. Another novel which is really an allegory for American ethos right after 9/11, is A Disorder Peculiar to the Country by Ken Kalfus. On the surface, it's the story of Marshall and Joyce Harriman's divorce as it escalates to Twin Tower proportions. But, as I wrote in my 2007 review, "(the author) strives for analogy;  to depict a microcosm of the paranoid, intolerant, inept, and violent new order of the re-awoken world. In many ways it succeeds, and in one scene a loosey-goosey house party morphs into an eerily creepy parody evocative of the terrible high jinks uncovered at Abu Graib Prison."

Other related works are: