Updike’s Other America

From The New York Times:

‘Terrorist,’ by John UpdikeUpdike_2

To ponder Updike’s work in now old-fashioned sociopolitical terms, it might be said that he examines our struggle to maintain a viable center for our inner life while enduring the most revolutionary force in history — American capitalism. According to some accounts, the term “Americanization” was coined in France during the 19th century, and even then there seemed to hover about it a wariness, a prescient caution. Today, nobody abroad and very few people in the United States who invoke “Americanization” mean anything good by it. The word “globalization,” used negatively, has come to serve as a virtual synonym.

This pondering of truisms is more germane to an appreciation of John Updike’s new novel, “Terrorist,” than one might first think. One of the most interesting things about this book is its convergence of imagined views about the way this country is and the way it appears. The views are, variously, those of an American high school boy, half-Irish, half-Egyptian by background, who is intoxicated by Islam; an elderly Lebanese immigrant; that immigrant’s American-born son; and a rather ambiguous Yemeni imam who is the high school boy’s religious teacher.

More here.