How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position
published 2014 • 5.25" x 8" • 175 pages
“Witty and incisive…” —Kirkus Reviews
“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)
“Tabish Khair’s new novel 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… Khair has written that rare thing: a mature comic novel.”
—The New Republic
“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… 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.”
—Claire Chambers, The Huffington Post
A HILARIOUS, SATIRICAL NOVEL FROM AWARD-WINNING INDIAN WRITER
Funny and sad, satirical and humane, this novel tells the interlinked stories of three unforgettable men whose trajectories cross in Denmark: the flamboyant Ravi, the fundamentalist Karim, and the unnamed and pragmatic Pakistani narrator.
As the unnamed narrator copes with his divorce, and Ravi—despite his exterior of skeptical flamboyance—falls deeply in love with a beautiful woman who is incapable of responding in kind, Karim, their landlord, goes on with his job as a taxi driver and his regular Friday Qur’an sessions. But is he going on with something else? Who is Karim? And why does he disappear suddenly at times or receive mysterious phone calls? When a “terrorist attack” takes place in town, all three men find themselves embroiled in doubt, suspicion, and, perhaps, danger.
An acerbic commentary on the times, How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position is also a bitter-sweet, spell-binding novel about love and life today.
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.
Advance praise for How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position
“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.”
—Indra 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
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