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The Unknown Terrorist

3.05 of 5 stars 3.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,017 ratings  ·  196 reviews
From the internationally acclaimed author of Gould’s Book of Fish comes an astonishing new novel, a riveting portrayal of a society driven by fear. What would you do if you turned on the television and saw you were the most wanted terrorist in the country? Gina Davies is about to find out when, after a night spent with an attractive stranger, she becomes a prime suspect in ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 10th 2007 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 2006)
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Jon Wiggy
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I'd like to report a case of identity theft.

Someone has taken the name of Richard Flanagan, the author of the brilliant Gould's Book of Fish and the very good Death of a River Guide and published a novel, pretending it to be by him. They even used his picture on the back flap. I'm actually a bit worried because the first sentence was so good it sounded like Flanagan actually wrote it:

The idea that love is not enough is a particularly painful one.

This led me to believe that the kidnappers found h
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This book is utterly unlike Richard Flanagan's other literary fiction novels. If this is the first and only book you have ever read by this Australian writer, don't make the mistake of dismissing him as a writer of polemic not-very-convincing thrillers. His other books, Death of a River Guide, Gould's Book of Fish and Wanting are brilliant, intriguing, complex novels that will reward every millisecond you put into reading them.
Feb 18, 2008 Campion rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
Shelves: fiction
The cover art and the description of the book on the back cover are, unfortunately, the best part of this book. The author seems to want to make the point that people are sheep who enjoy being terrorized and who willingly submit themselves to manipulation by the government and mass media to that end.

To make that point (which was, even by WW2, utterly a cliche), the author relies on lofty sounding phrases that are utterly empty and two dimensional characters, none of whom are sympathetic. I found
I hope Flanagan isn't going in this thriller direction again. Really miss his previous style. The one saving grace was that it forced me to listen to Chopin's Nocturnes.

29/11/2013 1 0f 20 books for $10 the lot
Asma Fedosia
The story captivates because the irony and hopelessness of Gina Davies's (aka the Doll) situation escalates over a couple of days. She is unable to rebut her slanderers or to find help without risk. Listeners to and readers of the media are relieved that the authorities find their man and woman. Her solution to the spreading evil lies about her entire life is solved by her just as she meets her own final doom from the misfired gun of a potential helper. Her face the populace associates with thei ...more
It was interesting reading this at the moment given the almost voyeuristic overkill of the 9/11 anniversary.This is a highly political nobel, even a polemic, arguing that almost anyone can be turned into a 'terrorist' given our shock-jock media, two second sound bites and the loss of civil rights through anti-terrorism legislation. It's not the best writing in the world - Flanagan has adapted the thriller genre so none of the characters are fully formed and there are was too many coincidences. I ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Gina Davies, or "The Doll", is a pole-dancer working in a club in King's Cross, Sydney. Her life is simple, she works to save money for her own apartment and has nearly $40,000 already. She has no interest in politics or any issues that don't directly relate to her.

On the night of the Mardi Gras, she bumps into a young man, Tariq, who, the day before, had saved the little son of her best friend, Wilder, from drowning at Bondi. He's attractive, and they start dancing before going back to his pla
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To say that I was disappointed with this novel would be an understatement. After enjoying Flanagan's amazing Gould's Book of Fish I expected a similar performance. That did not occur and this novel is pedestrian at best. Although the basic outlines of this story come from Heinrich Böll’s novel “The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum,” written in response to the terrorism scares that Germany suffered in the late 1960s and ’70s, Mr. Flanagan has turned the story into a meditation upon the post-9/11 wor ...more
This sounded like an interesting book, but I hate the way it's written. Does the author refer to each character by first AND last name EVERY TIME? Throughout the ENTIRE book?! My god, there's nothing that irritates me quicker.

An annoying example to share:
"Then he turned to Richard Cody and told him that exciting things were afoot at Six....He waited for Richard Cody to say something, and so Richard Cody said something, but it was like telling Jerry Mendes he didn't smoke, for Richard Cody knew
Και επίκαιρο και καφκικό και πολιτικό θρίλερ και καταιγιστικό και στοχαστικό, κάποιες φορές ρέπει προς τη φλυαρία και λίγο (πολύ λίγο) προς τον εύκολο διδακτισμό, ωστόσο είναι σχεδόν αριστούργημα.
The Unknown Terrorist tells the story of how, due to hysteria and fear mongering of the media, a stripper becomes a terrorist suspect overnight. Flanagan is a skilled writer whose prose flows along elegantly. The main character (the stripper whom the author only refers to as "The Doll" for some reason) is developed throughout the story, we get to know her bit by bit. She has a rather simple mindset, is mistrustful of authorities, and these traits keep her from trying to resolve the mistake which ...more
P.A. Baines
This another book I am going to review early because there's a chance I may not finish it.

The author writes some excellent prose, but this alone is not enough to make a good story. It is rare that my mind will wander during the first few chapters, but this is exactly what happened this morning. The prose is good, so what's the problem?

Basically, I think it comes down to the fact that the author relies almost completely on "telling" as opposed to "showing". This is key because a reader will strug
Flanagan states the thesis of this novel--for it is a novel in service of an idea--right up front: "The idea that love is not enough is a particularly painful one. In the face of its truth, humanity has for centuries tried to discover in itself evidence that love is the greatest force on earth."

I thought The Unknown Terrorist was terrific, but not at first. It was more than just well-written. Flanagan is a dynamite writer, but it seemed to me it was all set up perfectly and it was clear what wou
Aug 19, 2008 Roy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of The Fugitive
Although it is very different in tone and style and subject matter, my experience reading this book reminded me a little of how I recently felt reading "An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England". The narrator of that book did one stupid thing after another and the reader was supposed to accept these actions as reasonable because the character is described/definned as a bumbler. In real life of course people do not fall quite so neatly into such categories. Someone may bumble most of ...more
Christina Rau
Within the first few pages of Richard Flanagan's The Unknown Terrorist, I learned that Jesus Christ was a terrorist. I liked the book already. Then I was wisked away from Jesus Christ Terrorist to the strip clubs of Sydney, Australia where a stripper with four names (The Doll, Krystal, Gina, and The Black Widow) saves her cash in the ceiling instead of using a bank and finds a random man named Tariq to do coke with after giving several lap dances and shoving her bare ass into rich men's faces.

Jan 05, 2009 Covo rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sydneysiders
This idea had potential, but is let down by the inconsistency of the writing.

There's huge disparity between the best and worst of Flanagan's prose. His strongest writing was seen in his descriptions of Sydney. At times he really captured the flavour of the city, which is a pretty good accomplishment for a Tasmanian! His sketches of Bondi, the harbour, the Cross and the Mardi Gras were, for me, the highlights of the novel.

Unfortunately it's let down by the cartoonish character development. I foun
Garrett Jones
I thought people were being harsh when I saw only one or two stars from so many reviewers. Then, I read the book. Now I understand. This is absolutely the worst book ever. The writing is so poor that the first sentence could actually be, "It was a dark and stormy night." It is difficult to connect with any of the characters; they are all so shallow and self-absorbed. I would like to see a metaphor count---bet this book holds the record for laughably insipid comparisons. Syntax, grammar, vocabula ...more
This is the third book I’ve read by Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan and I must say they’re all good. Nothing quite matches Gould’s Book of Fish but both this book and Wanting were quite different both from each other and from GBF.

The story - bombs are found in Sidney which are linked to terrorist activity. Our heroine, a poll dancer named “the Doll,” has just slept with, and fallen in love with, an Arab named Tariq. The Doll’s photo is suddenly all over and she is being hunted. Then Tariq is
I marked this book with five stars, and yet there was a moment when I wanted to put it down, throw it out and forget it. Not because it was that bad. Because it was that good. Perhaps it is only me, some of my personal history that resonates so strongly with Gina's fears, with her situation where she is trapped in someone's else story falsified for their own vanity. But these people are trapped too, and the story escalates, and a moment came when I knew how the book is going to end.

The language
Peter Clothier
As usual, I'm way behind the times. This powerful and still most timely book was published in 2006, and it came to my attention by pure chance, as I searched through my shelves to see what could be donated to the local library. Here was one, I thought, that looked interesting, and set it aside to read. I have no idea how it reached me in the first place.

It took only a few pages for me to recognize that Richard Flanagan is an exceptional writer. True, he writes about Australia in an unmistakably
I haven't read any Richard Flanagan before so cannot compare his writing style in The Unknown Terrorist to other works. I suspect others would be more my cup of tea though.
The Unknown Terrorist is a fairly standard thriller which employs the mass media and an unscrupulous journalist as its evil. Our supposed heroine, Gina, also named throughout as The Doll, is hounded to madness over the period of just a few days by drummed up hysteria and the cynical machinations of anonymous powerful men in su
Trite and tedious, bilious and banal.
James Whitmore
This is a difficult book. On the one hand it's hyper-political and topical. At one stage the fictional government states "Either you are with Australia or you are not Australian". Published in 2007 it echoes almost word-for-word the current 'team Australia' rhetoric. On the other hand I found this book quite cold. Sure Flanagan is capable of zingers like an old couple "radioactive with health and prosperity" or one character who has "an SBS mind in an MTV world", but you can't really thrive off ...more
Bizzy Day
Ubiquitous, topical, introspective. It has it's faults. The writing is often inconsistent and the use of 'the Doll' removes you from the protagonist in ways designed to illustrate how easy it is scaremonger and demonstrate how easy it is for media reality to become all too real. In this reality, it made it difficult for me connect with Gina at points. I didn't quite buy into her. There was some beautifully written passages though, that were particularly thought provoking. It's an interesting rea ...more
Beautiful writing but relentlessly grim.
Fascinating, engaging book. After a passionate one-night stand with a mysterious stranger, the protagonist is wrongly identified as being wanted in connection with terrorism, and becomes hounded by the Australian media and forced to hide. As a former 'exotic dancer' with high profile clients and a huge stash of cash she has been saving to escape her life, she doesn't know who to trust. Should have been a stretch, but really posed some ethical/moral questions about how we trust the media and the ...more
This is an interesting idea, considering the 'age of terror' which we're currently living in. Gina Davies, also known as 'the Doll' and 'Krystal' is a pole dancer in Sydney who is saving her money to go to university and have a career which she can be proud of. The night after she has a one night stand with a stranger she sees a photograph of herself and the stranger on a news report, linking them to unexploded bombs found at Homebush stadium. Her reluctance to go straight to the police proves t ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Christina rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Christina by: Kimbofo {Reading Matters}
The Unknown Terrorist is not what you would expect because the jacket blurb did not completely, accurately portray what the novel is about. Yes, Gina Davies, known professionally as “The Doll” or “Krystal,” is an adult entertainer, who finds herself the prime suspect in a terrorism case after a one-night stand with Tariq. But The Unknown Terrorist is more about the modern world as it is when fear is rampant and politicians, the media, and the world play off the common man’s fear. The novel is mo ...more
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Richard Flanagan (born 1961) is an author, historian and film director from Tasmania, Australia. He was president of the Tasmania University Union and a Rhodes Scholar. Each of his novels has attracted major praise. His first, Death of a River Guide (1994), was short-listed for the Miles Franklin Award, as were his next two, The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1997) and Gould's Book of Fish (2001). Hi ...more
More about Richard Flanagan...
The Narrow Road to the Deep North Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish The Sound of One Hand Clapping Wanting Death of a River Guide

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“Realism is the embrace of disappointment, in order no longer to be disappointed. 4 “So I came to the city, my friend,” the Doll then told Jodie, “what of it?” 1 likes
“A murderer's light spilled out from the sunset. It flooded William Street with its ruddy glow and ran beneath the blue-black hail clouds and up the boulevard like hot blood.” 0 likes
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