Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lionel Shriver’s four favorite novels about terrorism

Novelist and journalist Lionel Shriver won the coveted Orange Prize in 2005 for We Need to Talk about Kevin, a gripping literary page-turner that delves into the tragic possibilities of motherhood gone awry. Her features, op-eds, and reviews have appeared in such publications as The Guardian, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the Economist.

Her latest novel is The New Republic.

One of Shriver’s four favorite novels on terrorism, as told to The Daily Beast:
American Pastoral
by Philip Roth

The daughter of an American paragon, Merry Levov bombs a U.S. post office to protest against the war in Vietnam and then goes on the run. Roth paints a stunning portrait of Patty-Hearst-style terrorist wannabe going off the deep end. What always leaps out in my mind when I remember this novel is the image of Merry when she has decided she will no longer hurt any living thing, including plants: she will not eat, she will not wash, she will not cut her own hair or nails. She looks revolting, and she talks drivel. She somehow resonates with the case of the wayward Californian John Walker Lindh, also discovered filthy with long matted hair, and speaking mysteriously with an Arabic accent.
Read about the other books on Shriver's list.

American Pastoral is on Justin Cartwright's top ten list of novels about societies under stress, Sheila Hancock's list of her six best books, Maria Semple's list of her six best books, and among Ward Just's five favorite novels about the pursuit of money. It appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best riots in literature and Jason Diamond's list of "The 50 Most Essential Works Of Jewish Fiction Of The Last 100 Years."

--Marshal Zeringue