Tag Archives: Richard Flanagan

The Unknown Terrorist, by Richard Flanagan

I had a hard time with this book. It started out rough.. got better…and then ended poorly. A young woman who makes her living as a pole dancer in a gentleman’s club, has a one night stand with a handsome stranger. We don’t learn too much about this stranger, but their meeting leads the authorities to believe that she is a terrorist. Instead of going to the police to explain the situation, she decides to go into hiding.

My problem with this novel was not her profession… or her lack of education…or the dark and depressing subject matter… my problem is that the main character seemed to to be driven, only by money, and not much else. I get that she probably needed to focus on something material, in order to get her through her grisly line of work, but when she was accused of being a terrorist… I didn’t get that she was genuinely panicked over it. She just seemed to flit from one location to another.. perhaps it was her drug use. She seemed to be looking at things through a filter.

In the first part of the book, we know this woman as “The Doll”. This is a good name for her as she appears to be very one dimensional. Towards the end of the book, we learn her real name and we learn some things about her that make her more real to us. However, I don’t feel that this information was given to us early enough.

One descriptive word that came to mind when trying to describe this book to my husband was “gritty”. The media plays a large role in this novel, and I kept picturing the dark, gritty quality of a bad news clip taken in some foreign land. Overall, the book left me very unsettled and disturbed.

If you want a departure from your normal reading, then this might be a book for you.