Are We Ready for a Novel Narrated by a Terrorist? – The Daily Beast

Similar but different to The Reluctant Fundamentalist:

Would you read a book in which the protagonist is a radicalized terrorist?

This is the premise of Khalil, a novel by Algerian-born, France-based author Yasmina Khadra. When it was first published in France in 2018, there was a certain reticence towards the book. “Frankly, what interest is there in finding yourself in the mind of one of the perpetrators of the attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris?” a cultural critic in French newspaper Libération bluntly queried. “Khadra’s new novel provokes an impulse to retreat: don’t want to read it, don’t want to check it out.”

And yet, the reviewer concluded just as firmly: “Such prejudices show that the author was right to write his book.”

The desire to dismiss rather than deconstruct dangerous figures is, in a way, its own danger. Their unfathomable and unconscionable actions shape our anarchic society; avoidance doesn’t eradicate their presence or power. Nor does an engagement with their narrative validate what they do. Confronting our malaise around these figures helps identify how the past has metastasized into the present moment.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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