Understanding the Bombers’ Mindset

Over the last few days, I’ve seen several articles about books of fiction that seem newly relevant in the aftermath of the London attacks. Over at the Times, for instance, Helen Rumbelow revisits Hanif Kureishi’s short story “My Son the Fanatic,” which is about an older Pakistani man who watches helplessly as his son Ali is taken in by fundamentalists. The story appeared in Love In A Blue Time, and was also adapted by Kureishi for the screen. She also suggests Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, in which young Millat’s transformation from hipster to Satanic-Verses-burning-goon is dramatized with conviction and humor. Lastly, Rumbelow mentions Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, for its depiction of a young Islamist revolutionary (with whom Nazneen has an affair).

Over at the Mobile Register, John Sledge devotes a column to Brick Lane, and finds that Ali provides “a fully rounded portrait of one family and its confrontation with inexorable social and historical forces.”

Meanwhile, over at Salon, Laura Miller reviews three books of non-fiction: Robert Pape’s Dying to Win, Terry McDermott’s Perfect Soldiers and Karen Armstrong’s The Battle for God, and gets incrementally more positive about each book in turn.