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How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position Paperback – November 12, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Interlink Pub Group (November 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566569702
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566569705
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,588,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Smart, funny, and wonderfully irreverent...
Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The final joy of this magnificently disreputable novel is the realization that, like all great books, it has actually been reading you.
Indira Sinha, author of Animal s People --.

A story that begins with a guy jerking into a plastic bag and ends with a dream, covering that vast terrain between the two with such a charming and humane ease that it makes you envy Tabish Khair not just for his writing talent but also for his infectious and almost unconditional love for mankind. --Etgar Keret, author of Suddenly, a Knock on the Door

Since the 1989 controversy over Salman Rushdie s The Satanic Verses, and certainly since September 11, American readers have shown interest in fiction that potentially serves a dual purpose: as a reflection upon the threat of Islamic extremism and as commentary on the immigrant condition in Western society more broadly...

Tabish Khair s new novel, How To Fight Islamist Terror From the Missionary Position, is the best short attempt to capture some of these realities and tensions that I have yet read. At less than 200 pages, Khair pulls off a brisk, bitingly funny narrative that manages to make some astute points about both Islamic extremism and the Western penchant for stereotyping without drawing anything like a false equivalence. And for a book so concise and witty, it is also surprisingly textured...The book is cleverly constructed in such a way that we know some event has occurred involving the major characters, and that the event had serious consequences, but we don t know what it was or why it happened. This encourages us to read into every little nugget Khair drops along the way; he almost seems to be goading the reader into over-interpreting character traits and plot crumbs. One plot twist is very cleverly made clear to the reader but obscured from the narrator himself; the narrator s inability to get it tells us quite a lot about him.

Khair s clever take on the clash of cultures extends to his language. Every Tom, Dick, and Hari from India goes to USA, UK, Australia, or Canada," Ravi states at one point. (He also uses the phrase Indiosyncratic. ) Khair gently applies this gentle ribbing not just to linguistic differences, but to literary culture as a whole (in addition to academia). A character is said to have been mentioned as a name to watch by Salman Rushdie. And then comes the sting: For more than a decade, he had been rumored to be the next Vikram Seth. (This is again reminiscent of Waugh: the casually stated insult.) But these gibes along with repeated slaps at MFA programs ultimately feel organic to the narrator s personality rather than merely taunting or cruel.

... the main focus of his story is the cultural and political reality of immigrant life rather than clash-of-civilization questions. If this novel is anything to go by, a subtle approach to Big Questions can succeed admirably.

The biggest surprise, however, is that a book so full of humor has so much to say about what is what is still portentously called our era. ...Khair has written that rare thing: a mature comic novel. ---New Repubic January 2014

Do you remember some Muslims' violent reactions to the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten's decision to print abusive cartoons of Mohammed in 2005? Or the early assumption by many sections of the media that the 2011 shootings actually perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik were the work of Muslim extremists angry with Norway's role in the war on terror? These moments showed the world that Scandinavia is equally as bound up with issues relating to Islamism and Islamophobia as are other parts of Europe that have far higher populations of Muslims. This brilliant new novel by Tabish Khair explores such topical issues, as well as more personal themes of love and imperfection, literature and life, city and country. How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position's tight plot and its accelerating accrual of clues and tension mean that the novel inevitably invites comparison with popular Scandinavian crime dramas such as The Killing, Borgen or The Bridge...

Despite the weighty subject matter, this is also a very funny book…This is a fast-paced, hilarious novel that nonetheless has sufficient depth to withstand several re-readings. If there's any justice, it's going to be as big a hit in Euro-America as it has been in Khair's home country of India. --Huffington Post UK February 2014

The title is nowhere near as irreverent, intelligent, and explosive as the slowly detonated bomb of a story inside... This book 190 pages which force themselves to be read in one sitting is a fine example of how much impact a short novel can have. It occupies a space somewhere between the funny, the sad and satirical. Narrative tone aims for blitheness but it is too intelligent to skim the surface and ridicule its easy-to-ridicule characters. It goes deeper to show us the men s humanities. Its language is plain... but it can t help but turn into pensive lyricism, even in its puerile jibing. What it dramatizes is how Muslims are judged, and more interestingly, how one kind of Muslim judges another, and how this judgment can be deeply complex, and condemnatory. It may only be mid-February but I suspect this will be among my most memorable reads of 2014.
The Independent (London)

Hilarious... Khair writes brilliantly about racism, and the misunderstanding between rich and poor. Unmissable. --The Times (London)

About the Author

Born in 1966 and educated mostly in Bihar, India, Tabish Khair is the author of several critically acclaimed novels and poetry collections. Winner of the All India Poetry Prize as well as fellowships at Delhi, Cambridge, and Hong Kong, his novels The Bus Stopped (2004), Filming: A Love Story (2007), and The Thing About Thugs (2010) have been translated into several languages and shortlisted for major literary prizes including the Encore Award (UK), the Crossword Prize, the Hindu Best Fiction Prize, the DSC Prize for South Asia (India), and the Man Asian Literary Prize (Hong Kong). He lives in Arhus, Denmark.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Abdullah Khan on December 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
The reminds me of the reluctant fundamentalist by Mohshin
Hamid . Though it deals with serious subject like terrorism and identify, it has qualities of a thriller and on each and every you will be surprised by the sudden twist and turn of events. An absolute page turner.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carleton C. Casteel on February 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Superb writing, subtle but lands square on the fact that perception trumps truth almost everytime. Funny but darkly so. Read it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Caleb D. Powell on June 22, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For anyone looking to understand how secular Muslims navigate prejudice coming from all sides, this quasi-comedy delivers. This includes atheist Muslims, a contradiction, yet many atheists of the Muslim faith identify themselves as so, just as there are Jewish atheists. The developing trope is two South Asians, well educated, down and out with love, and searching to meet women, visit bars, and so on, move in with Karim, a devout Muslim whose study sessions and fundamental views about women, homosexuals, and apostates cause them to suspect him of involvement with terror.

Set in Denmark, (I lived in Copenhagen for three months) this novel engages with the tangible threat of terrorism in Europe, and how it affects everyone.
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The main characters are all East Asians living and working in Denmark. One is a Muslim who has lost his faith, another a dedicated Muslim, who holds meetings in the apartment they share every Friday, and the third is from a wealthy Hindu background, now finding himself interested in Islam. But even the most dedicated of the three turns out to have a more personal priority that we never could have guessed. The writing is delightful, with the occasional pearl… The quote below is from the narrator, on the occasion of his girlfriend’s having said something critical about the very beautiful companion of his Hindu friend.

“I felt that was unfair to Lena, but I dropped the topic with a laugh. You do not defend another woman when lying in bed with your girlfriend. I was not such a boy as that.”
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