Version: Unabridged
Author: John Updike
Narrator: Christopher Lane
Genres: Literature
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published In: June 2006
# of Units: 9 CDs
Length: 10 hours
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The ever-surprising John Updike's twenty-second novel is a brilliant contemporary fiction that will surely be counted as one of his most powerful. It tells of eighteen-year-old Ahmad Ashmawy Mulloy and his devotion to Allah and the words of the Holy Qur'an, as expounded to him by a local mosque's imam.
The son of a bohemian Irish-American mother and an Egyptian father who disappeared when he was three, Ahmad turned to Islam at the age of eleven. He feels his faith threatened by the materialistic, hedonistic society he sees around him in the slumping factory town of New Prospect, in northern New Jersey. Neither the world-weary, depressed guidance counselor at Central High School, Jack Levy, nor Ahmad's mischievously seductive black classmate, Joryleen Grant, succeeds in diverting the boy from what his religion calls the Straight Path. When he finds employment in a furniture store owned by a family of recently immigrated Lebanese, the threads of a plot gather around him, with reverberations that rouse the Department of Homeland Security.
But to quote the Qur'an: Of those who plot is God the best.

Reviews (3)


Written by Debbie from Pittsburgh, PA on August 21st, 2007

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Not his best work. Characters made no sense at all. Why Ahmad wanted to become a terrorist at all was incomprehensible and his acts became more and more nonsensical as the plot progressed. Don't read it.


Written by Anonymous on January 31st, 2007

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Updike is top notch, so smart, such a great character study. It's slow build of story is very compelling. Makes you care about these people living quiet lives of desperation. He's as good an American writer as there is.

The Terrorist

Written by Anonymous from Wall, NJ on September 17th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Using his characteristically clear, sharp prose, Updike depicts the reasons he feels many Muslims hate the Great Satan, America. What motivates his protagonist to undertake an act of terror are all the evils of our culture today: using sex to sell products, the superficial goals of many of our young people, you name it. But how successfully has he entered the mind of his main character? Is this really the way an 18-year-old Muslim son of an Egyptian father and an Irish-American mother would view our American culture, even if he had sat for years at the feet of a Muslim teacher who thinks our society is bankrupt of relgion, morals, and ethics? Did Updike talk to many Muslims here in the States? Are there really lots of young men like Almed walking among us? I don't know. At times I felt the character stretched the limits of credibility. But I enjoyed the book. My only other two adverse reactions would be that there was too much gratuitous sex and the ending was cheesey.

Author Details

Author Details

Updike, John

John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of "The New Yorker, " and since 1957 has lived in Massachusetts. He is the author of fifty-odd previous books, including twenty novels and numerous collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His fiction has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells