Excerpt: 'The Unknown Terrorist' Richard Flanagan's deeply unsettling new novel features first-class writing, a central character whose past and present will tear your heart in two, and a plot that carries you inexorably along to the last sad and awful climactic scene, recommends Nancy Pearl.
NPR logo Excerpt: 'The Unknown Terrorist'

Excerpt: 'The Unknown Terrorist'

Cover Image: 'The Unknown Terrorist'

The Unknown Terrorist

by Richard Flanagan

Hardcover, 336 pages

List Price: $24.00

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She put some music on loud and the TV on low. There was an ad for the new Toyota Prado. Everything in the ad—men, women, roads, and skies—looked beautiful and at peace. It calmed the Doll.

She went and cleaned her bathroom. When she came back a quiz show was on. A reality show. A sports show. She dozed off. She woke to see the screen filled with armed police taking up position around Tariq's apartment block. The Doll grabbed the remote and turned up the volume.

The newsreader was talking about a failed police stakeout of a notorious Islamic terrorist. "To assist with their inquiries in regard to yesterday's attempted bombing of Homebush Stadium, police have tonight released security camera footage," the newsreader said, "showing the terrorist suspect entering an apartment building last night with a female accomplice."

The grainy images showed a couple hugging each other as they entered a building. The footage slowed down so much that she could see the frames clicking through. In contrast with their dark surroundings, they had used some digital effect to spotlight the couple's faces.

"It is not yet known," continued the newsreader, "who the woman is, or if she is part of a terrorist cell."

The Doll felt her mouth go dry. The man was Tariq. The woman was her

From The Unknown Terrorist published by Grove Press, May 2007

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