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Jessica
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The Book as a Whole: Defining 9/11

In the book's final chapter, Changez speaks of how terrorism, according to America's post-9/11 political and military leadership, "was defined to refer only to the organized and politically motivated killing of civilians by killers not wearing the uniforms of soldiers." Do you agree with this assertion?

Since 9/11, there has been a growing trend in contemporary fiction to write about the tragedy of that day and its aftermath. Compare The Reluctant Fundamentalist with some of the other "9/11 novels" you have read. What sets it apart or makes it unique?


Reply to this message to discuss any of these topics. Or start your own new topic by clicking "New Message."

Note: This topic refers to the book as a whole.

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bentley
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Defining 9/11


Jessica wrote:

In the book's final chapter, Changez speaks of how terrorism, according to America's post-9/11 political and military leadership, "was defined to refer
only to the organized and politically motivated killing of civilians by killers not wearing the uniforms of soldiers." Do you agree with this assertion?

Since 9/11, there has been a growing trend in contemporary fiction to write about the tragedy of that day and its aftermath. Compare The Reluctant
Fundamentalist
with some of the other "9/11 novels" you have read. What sets it apart or makes it unique?



Reply to this message to discuss any of these topics. Or start your own new topic by clicking "New Message."

Note: This topic refers to the book as a whole.




I don't thing I agree with Changez. Since 1988, there have been 109 different definitions of terrorism. 1988 is certainly pre-9/11! I don't think that 9/11 was the first terrorist act or that the definition given only fits post 9/11. You only have to look at the IRA/UK conflict for many years to understand that and at many other spots around the globe. In fact, terrorism has not simply been a fundamentalist Islamic Muslim approach either. I think most would agree with the wikipedia content or with the following excerpt:

"...terrorism ultimately involves the use or threat of violence with the aim of creating fear not only to the victims but among a wide audience, it is fear which distinguishes terrorism from both conventional and guerrilla warfare. While both conventional military forces may engage in psychological warfare and guerrilla forces may engage in acts of terror and other forms of propaganda, they both aim at military victory. Terrorism on the other hand aims to achieve political or other goals, when direct military victory is not possible. This has resulted in some social scientists referring to guerrilla warfare as the "weapon of the weak" and terrorism as the "weapon of the weakest".[4]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definition_of_terrorism

In my sadness regarding what happened on 9/11, I really have read mostly tributes to the families and "brave" who passed away on that date. Additionally, those pieces which focused on all heroes both dead and alive. Maybe I need to expand my understanding, but it is difficult when it hits so close to home. I think violence begets violence and once you get on that merry go round, you never get off. One gets killed on one side so two are killed on the other. One suicide bomber kills 100 people so bombs are dropped on settlements where innocent people live who are on the other side...and it goes on and on and on. Faceless acts of violence which destroy the innocent.
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x-tempo
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Defining 9/11

I was interested in Changez's fears of a US-backed Indian invasion of Pakistan after 9/11, something I was not really aware of. I knew that the US under Nixon and Kissinger had supported Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 (a.k.a. the Pakistani Civil War or Bangladesh Liberation War, described in Monica Ali's Brick Lane) and had even deployed a battleship with nuclear capability to the area, facing off against similar Soviet ships. Changez's other concern is his country's cultural ties to Afghanistan and most of all the civilian death toll in such a war.

This novel and Monica Ali's are the only ones I've read that deal with 9/11 backlash, like the harassment of NYC cabdrivers, FBI raids on businesses, etc. In The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, the Twin Towers are a conspicuous part of the cityscape, which struck me as a kind of avoidance on the part of the author. But violence against "foreigners" was actually widespread and very indiscriminate; Sikhs, olive-complexioned Italians, and people of other ethnic groups were threatened, attacked, and even killed.

I wasn't living in Manhattan at the time of the attacks, so I can't comment on the number of American flags, however, the same phenomenon is observed by Bernard-Henri Levy in his book "American Vertigo: Across the US in the Footsteps of De Toqueville" (or some similar title), which was written before the 2000 presidential election.
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x-tempo
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Defining 9/11

Oops, American Vertigo was written during the 2004 presidential campaign, not the 2000 campaign, however, I don't think the author ever connects the large number of American flags he sees across the country with the war.

"BHL," as he's called, is better known for "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?" which is about the kidnapping and beheading of the NY Times reporter in Pakistan. I haven't read it.
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Defining 9/11



x-tempo wrote:
Oops, American Vertigo was written during the 2004 presidential campaign, not the 2000 campaign, however, I don't think the author ever connects the large number of American flags he sees across the country with the war.

"BHL," as he's called, is better known for "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?" which is about the kidnapping and beheading of the NY Times reporter in Pakistan. I haven't read it.




There's a great interview with Levy here (see link) in which he discusses "American Vertigo".

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?ISBN=1400064341&pdf=y&z=y
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x-tempo
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Defining 9/11

Thanks, Paul H. I'll check it out. Although the reviews were mixed, I enjoyed the book.
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compare the book

[ Edited ]

Jessica wrote:smileyembarrassed:Since 9/11, there has been a growing trend in contemporary fiction to write about the tragedy of that day and its aftermath. Compare The Reluctant
Fundamentalist
with some of the other "9/11 novels" you have read. What sets it apart or makes it unique?

For me personally it is absolutely uninteresting to compare this book to another one.
It is a thin book, powerful enough to stand on its own feet and personally I'd like to hear people's direct reactions to it.

To write about something with sufficient degree of understanding you need to gain certain distance, objectivity. TRF tries to do that. The 9/11 event started to slowly seep into the fiction I'd say but in many ways we still do not have a sufficient distance to it and TRF contributes now by offering som plausible angles for us to start thinking about the topic objectively, if possible.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 05-11-200705:57 AM

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Re: The Book as a Whole: Defining 9/11



bentley wrote: I think most would agree with the wikipedia content or with the following excerpt:

"...terrorism ultimately involves the use or threat of violence with the aim of creating .....




It is the desperate one trying to bully the one with power who seems to ignore him.

When we ask who used its methods (and with what outcomes), when and why a more complete picture appears.

We are then left with the question what is the real power and what is the aim of such power and why communication was broken. The purpose of fear is evident, but does it ever win at the end? Did it win in Mohsin's book?


ziki
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bentley
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Defining 9/11



ziki wrote:


bentley wrote: I think most would agree with the wikipedia content or with the following excerpt:

"...terrorism ultimately involves the use or threat of violence with the aim of creating .....




It is the desperate one trying to bully the one with power who seems to ignore him.

When we ask who used its methods (and with what outcomes), when and why a more complete picture appears.

We are then left with the question what is the real power and what is the aim of such power and why communication was broken. The purpose of fear is evident, but does it ever win at the end? Did it win in Mohsin's book?


ziki




I am not sure that I understood. I disagreed with Changez's definition of what terrorism meant. Are you saying that Changez is the desperate one ignoring the power of the American who seems to ignore Changez. Or are you referring to the countries represented Pakistan and America?

I am just not sure where the power base is that you are referring to. I do think terrorists have a purpose and it is fear. But what did you see in TRF which showed the above. Who was fearful of whom? The American of the waiter maybe and of the food itself. I really did not see fear on the side of Changez of the American, did you?
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Defining 9/11

[ Edited ]

ziki wrote:


bentley wrote: I think most would agree with the wikipedia content or with the following excerpt:

"...terrorism ultimately involves the use or threat of violence with the aim of creating .....




It is the desperate one trying to bully the one with power who seems to ignore him.

When we ask who used its methods (and with what outcomes), when and why a more complete picture appears.

We are then left with the question what is the real power and what is the aim of such power and why communication was broken. The purpose of fear is evident, but does it ever win at the end? Did it win in Mohsin's book?


ziki



bentley wrote:

I am not sure that I understood.




:smileyhappy: I don't blame you, I hardly get it myself now :smileyvery-happy:

Sorry for my delayed answer. I meant the terrorist is the one who tries to bully by the use of violence, trying to scare the other side by creating fear and uncertainty. Machiavelli again. But it never leads to solution, the solution finally appears through negotiation, listening, coming together, cooperation, understanding and recognizing each other and each other's rights.To get that far many times we need to hit the bottom.

So I say the terrorist (bully) is the desperate one here, trying to get attention by negative action. Now Mohsin's book isn't about terrorism,it is just inevitable to mention terrorism in connection to it, mostly because of the implied end--if Ch. was liquidated.

Question: Did Changez (in US) wish for more attention for who he was? Not just for what he did? Perhaps so. In that respect he was a fundamentalist in another respect: It is a fundamental human need to be recognized for who you are, appreciated for your essence, not the shell.

His appearance became his shell, his prison. His work, too...and what was left of him? He had an identity crisis of sorts.


Further I wrote:
When we ask who used its methods (and with what outcomes), when and why a more complete picture appears.

I guess I meant that when we look at what terrorists achieved in the past, the record is clear. Just go back to what happened in Munich 1972. It is when we fail to recognize each other and the 'fundamental human needs' that we all have, that the trouble starts.

At school we read about feodal social structure and for me it was something that existed light years ago but in i.e. Pakistan (reference to the previous link with women violence) the feodal rules are still the reality TODAY. Just the thought makes me dizzy!

In some earlier post I said that Mohsin's book can actually fuel the racism but I hope it does the opposite, it raises a lot of questions and one can but hope that readers employ their ability to discern.

ziki
just talking in circles :smileyhappy:

Message Edited by ziki on 05-16-200705:22 AM

Frequent Contributor
bentley
Posts: 2,509
Registered: ‎01-31-2007
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Re: The Book as a Whole: Defining 9/11

[ Edited ]

ziki wrote:

ziki wrote:


bentley wrote: I think most would agree with the wikipedia content or with the following excerpt:

"...terrorism ultimately involves the use or threat of violence with the aim of creating .....




It is the desperate one trying to bully the one with power who seems to ignore him.

When we ask who used its methods (and with what outcomes), when and why a more complete picture appears.

We are then left with the question what is the real power and what is the aim of such power and why communication was broken. The purpose of fear is evident, but does it ever win at the end? Did it win in Mohsin's book?


ziki



bentley wrote:

I am not sure that I understood.




:smileyhappy: I don't blame you, I hardly get it myself now :smileyvery-happy:

Sorry for my delayed answer. I meant the terrorist is the one who tries to bully by the use of violence, trying to scare the other side by creating fear and uncertainty. Machiavelli again. But it never leads to solution, the solution finally appears through negotiation, listening, coming together, cooperation, understanding and recognizing each other and each other's rights.To get that far many times we need to hit the bottom.

So I say the terrorist (bully) is the desperate one here, trying to get attention by negative action. Now Mohsin's book isn't about terrorism,it is just inevitable to mention terrorism in connection to it, mostly because of the implied end--if Ch. was liquidated.

Question: Did Changez (in US) wish for more attention for who he was? Not just for what he did? Perhaps so. In that respect he was a fundamentalist in another respect: It is a fundamental human need to be recognized for who you are, appreciated for your essence, not the shell.

His appearance became his shell, his prison. His work, too...and what was left of him? He had an identity crisis of sorts.


Further I wrote:
When we ask who used its methods (and with what outcomes), when and why a more complete picture appears.

I guess I meant that when we look at what terrorists achieved in the past, the record is clear. Just go back to what happened in Munich 1972. It is when we fail to recognize each other and the 'fundamental human needs' that we all have, that the trouble starts.

At school we read about feodal social structure and for me it was something that existed light years ago but in i.e. Pakistan (reference to the previous link with women violence) the feodal rules are still the reality TODAY. Just the thought makes me dizzy!

In some earlier post I said that Mohsin's book can actually fuel the racism but I hope it does the opposite, it raises a lot of questions and one can but hope that readers employ their ability to discern.

ziki
just talking in circles :smileyhappy:

Message Edited by ziki on 05-16-200705:22 AM






Hello Ziki,

It can get confusing when there are no good solutions. And anyway I am all talked out on TRF too.

But you are right in that the book could actually do the opposite of what it intended; because of a couple of things: the ending (unknown) and the belligerant and hostile attitudes of the protagonist spoken with no understanding of the US's posture after 9/11, and most importantly of the role he played in what happened. It felt like another piling on exercise to vent anger.

Had not thought of it..but it definately left me cold. But like the example that I gave about the mother in law awhile back..at least now the mother in law (the US) knows where she stands and knows that she is hated and thought of as an insufferable opinionated bully by many in Pakistan. Not that I believe that about the mother in law (US); I know that you and I feel differently; but the protagonist in this book surely did based upon what he said. I think we heard him loud and clear. That is also not too soothing for relationships.

I think when people feel weak, they think they are being strong by resorting to these horrible acts (terrorism). They may also feel that they have no other choices which of course they do; but they just can't see any way out. How to make them see that they have other choices I think is the key.

The women that you described in the urls that you posted also never had any choices and when they tried to help themselves they suffered for it or were killed because they made another decision.

Terrorism may be the only choice that some of these people are allowed to make; and because of some of the radical mosques teachings etc. and clerics who are just trying to hold on to their power over a country and its people enhancing their own positions and standing. The situation is like a dog chasing its tail. Not sure how you stop it.

Like I said I know that I don't know and I am glad every day that I live here and did not grow up elsewhere.

Regards,

Bentley

Message Edited by bentley on 05-16-200709:33 AM

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