Prufrock's Page

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mapping The Extremist Mindset

In The Guardian's blog, Natasha Walter raises an extremely interesting and pertinent point about the work of all those novelists who have made contemporary terrorism their theme: is research getting in the way of empathy and, if so, should we leave the exploits of terrorists to non-fiction?

"They are taking the reality beyond the novel seriously, and they certainly do their research. Rushdie can detail the kinds of weapons Kashmiri terrorists would train with; Updike can quote the Qur'an at length; Amis can reproduce the actual words of Muhammad Atta. Yet rather than giving extra richness, the research produces a feeling of artificiality - as though research has replaced empathy. That rather begs the question of why these writers are choosing fiction rather than political commentary. Is the chorus of news, all around us, still too loud for the artist to come through with his or her own voice?"


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