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Jihadi: A Love Story

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  73 ratings  ·  35 reviews
A former intelligence agent stands accused of terrorism, held without charge in a secret overseas prison. His memoir is in the hands of a brilliant but erratic psychologist whose annotations paint a much darker picture. As the story unravels, we are forced to assess the truth for ourselves, and decide not only what really happened on one fateful overseas assignment but who ...more
Paperback, 395 pages
Published May 1st 2016 by Orenda Books
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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 ·  73 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Liz Barnsley
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Updated with Full Review:

Jihadi is quite simply a brilliant book. Unique in its construction, entirely mind blowing and dreadfully emotional. The apocalypse could have come upon us whilst I was reading this novel and I would not even have noticed.

Yusuf Toropov just absorbs you into this and for the entirety of it you are just engaged, befuddled, involved, twisted and turned and ultimately wrung out. There are some smart observations within the narrative should you care to find them that are inhe
Jackie Law
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jihadi, by Yusuf Toropov, is not an easy book to get into but will reward the persistent reader with the satisfaction of having consumed an impressive work of literature. The narrative hooks brought to mind the Fibonnaci sequence. After a slow start the plot gathered pace until it was necessary to pause from time to time to absorb the multitude of ideas being conveyed. It is a layered and nuanced study of how society may be manipulated to further a cause.

The book is set out as a memoir written b
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jihadi; A Love Story – The Truth Is a Horrible Thing

Jihadi; A Love Story is a novel from Yusuf Toropov an American Muslim, which in itself must be a double edged sword at the best of times. He is an opinionated observer of American relationships with the Middle East and the psyche that they have while out there. While at the same time observes those whom the Americans have gone to ‘save’ and how they react.

Jihadi is not an easy book to read, it takes work, a lot of work if I am an honest but it
Cal Moriarty
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2016
Everything about this novel including its title will unsettle, mislead and challenge your perceptions. If you like intelligently written novels that are actually about something and about real, vivid characters rather than most of today's over-hyped fluffy throwaway nonsense, you will really enjoy this novel and will soon be recommending it to everyone you know. I would compare this novel to the best works of Bellow, Pynchon, Kafka -- so, essentially, you'll be reading a modern classic. I'm sure ...more
Katya Mills
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I thought the storyline was unlike any other I ever read. I did not always know who to trust or believe, which was almost like some parallel process that was happening in the story itself. I don't know how to describe it but it was pretty fascinating. Not an easy read at all. But well worth it. The characters are unforgettable. ...more
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Suffused with unreliable narrators, shifting timelines and locations, addendums to the text encased in grey boxes with a miniscule font, and short diversions from reality, this is not an easy read, and attention must be paid throughout. I really found that a few precious moments reading time snatched throughout the day were not conducive to the pleasure of reading this book, and only when reading substantial sections at a time did the real intelligence and cleverness of this book impact on me mo ...more
Louise Beech
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this book is a true lesson in writing. It's a work of art. I was left with more questions than answers (as is the way with the best works) and perhaps parts went over my limited head, but the beautiful writing is breathtaking. Thelonius Liddell's journey as a 'terrorist' held captive in prison is addictive and surprising. He's a man losing his mind, but never his heart. A genius book where the reader can never be sure what truth is, and wonders what the mysterious editor is letting us read/ ...more
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Variety is the spice of life. What constitutes a great book will vary from person to person. We all have different tastes (to this day some people still try to tell me The Da Vinci Code isn’t just something to keep at hand for when you run out of toilet roll) and some only every read within a genre. Recommending someone read The Master and Margarita won’t work if they’re only ever ‘reading’ Jojo Moyers….

But…. every now and then that rare thing will come along – a book that is so unarguably great
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it

Jihadi will probably be one of those novels that I will be thinking about long after I finished it. I will say that it's not the easiest novel that I've read, it was much easier to read with no background noise, that way I didn't miss anything.
The book is mainly about Thelonius, Fatima and Mike, how they connected and the consequences on their lives. And throughout the whole novel is a second narrator. At first you don't realise who this person is, just somebody a little annoying who places a f
Lisa Hall
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I can always rely on Orenda Books to send me quality books to review - stuff that pushes me out of my comfort zone, but this one really stretched me. I wasn't at all sure whether I would enjoy it, despite a cracking blurb. All I can say now, after finishing it, is WOW. A difficult, complex read that took me longer than average to read (possibly because I felt the need to let things digest between chapters), this was actually a brilliant read. It's a complicated read, so don't pick it up thinking ...more
Marina Sofia
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Finally finished this book! The fact that it took me so long is no reflection on its literary qualities, but that it is quite hard to read at times: disturbing themes, random savagery and great sadness, misguided ideology - too close to what I perceive the whole 'war on terror' to be. Very interesting structure as well, full of allusions to The Beatles' White Album, full of side notes and footnotes and self-justifications and comments. They really add to the story, but it does mean that you need ...more
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Full review to follow but a brilliantly clever book which will challenge preconceived ideas.
Elite Group
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jihadi: a love story by Yusuf Toropov
5 Stars
If you think you know what truth is…..think again!
A Jihad is a “God-conscious intention and effort in the face of an obstacle”.

“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” – whilst it is unclear where this quote originated it is entirely relevant to this novel which revolves around the relationships between the American ‘Directorate’ and Army and the various Muslim factions in the Islamic Republic.

On one side the ‘Directorate’ is a veiled Se
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everybody
Not your usual espionage thriller, and refreshingly so. Two principal American characters and CIA spooks are as mad as a bag of snakes, one has Sergeant USA as an alter ego, suggesting he is bi-polar, the other obssessed with The White Album by The Beatles. What adds to the tension is that they are husband and wife, and the latter's revenge goes way beyond the saying 'beware a woman scorned'. Arabic characters are also well drawn, the country is never divulged just the Islamic Republic, one coud ...more
Andy Wormald
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A hauntingly mesmeric read, to be honest it took some getting into but boy I am glad I stayed with it, it will toy with all your emotions as the story unfolds, a story character driven as much as plot driven, the author has created as diverse a set of characters as I will probably meet all year, with twists and turns aplenty. can[t wait to see what the author will come up with next
Anne Goodwin
Feb 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I’m happy to recommend Yusuf Toropov’s debut even to those who, like me, aren’t so enamoured of the fast-paced thriller, my first read from the new independent press Orenda who provided my review copy.
Full review
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the first novel I have read in 2016 but I cannot imagine that I will read a better one all year.

Full review here:
Sheila Rawlings
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jihadi: A Love Story is a thought provoking, highly intelligent thriller set against the war on terror, which forces the reader to consider the moral ambiguities and psychological effects such a conflict inevitably invokes.

Centred around Thelonius Liddell, a former American Intelligence agent, the story follows the events leading up to his being accused of terrorism and held without charge in an undisclosed prison. While there, he manages to write a manuscript detailing everything that occurred
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
My book blog:

Yusuf Toropov has written an unconventional and unique novel that tackles delicate subjects that we are currently all too aware of. You would think that this book is about religion, but to me personally, I felt that this book focussed more on the faith in yourself and not just the religion as a whole.
From the very first chapter I knew I was in for a good read. Toropov has written the start of this book in a way that will instantly grab you and make you
Paul Kater
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Jihadi. What can I say about it? It’s complicated. Really, it is. A deep book on many levels. Many layers. Complicated to read in the first chapters as well, because of the form the book has been created.

I must first say that I travelled part of the journey to completion of the book together with the author after meeting him online. He shared bits of it, asked the opinion of friends, even from me a few times. And he worked hard and long on it.

Jihadi tells about governments, political play and th
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
So ... this is going to be a very tough review to write, mainly because this is such a unique book to get to grips with. It is complex in style and story, very intelligent and with a very important, sometimes brutal narrative but is, when all is said and done a story of family and of betrayal set against a backdrop of war and terrorism. I won't lie, it took me some time to get into my stride with this book due to the way in which it is constructed, the main story sandwiched between seemingly edi ...more
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the Thelonius Liddel's memoirs while he waits his destiny at the Beige Motel...
First of all, thanks to Orenda Books for sharing this book with me, it was quite a discovery!
This is not a book you will read in just one read, you will have to stop and absorb all the turbulent things you've read and how the writer has created a maze, and where piece by piece everything starts to fit page by page.
In the beginning it will be quite difficult to follow the story mixing the Liddel's memoirs with
Ian Patrick Robinson
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was one of those books you need the time to appreciate the beauty and depth of the writing. I loved it. I loved its prose, storyline and back story. The way all was interwoven in to a fantastic and moving story was incredible. This is a work of literature and deserves recognition as such.
Aug 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Jihadi: A Love Story is a book that is very hard to review as it challenges you from the start and it makes you think. There are certainly no winners or even good guys in the events in this book but that in itself lends a bit more to the believability of the story being told.
Thelonius Liddell has written a sort of memoir and it is this that is the basis of the book as the story he is telling is slowly pulled apart by someone as the reader we do not know (although as the book progresses you will
Andrew Anderson
Jan 23, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Impenetrable pretentious nonsense

I was unable to finish this book. Text of the novel is interspersed with irrelevant and maddening references to Beatles songs and albums, a gimmick which adds nothing to the book.
I have never felt the need to write such a bad review before; save your money.
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
Complex, multilayered, harrowing and, to put it quite simply, one hell of a mindfuck. This is far from a comfortable read, deeply unsettling yet impossible to put down once you've started down the rabbit hole. ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
n his debut novel Jihadi: A Love Story, Yusuf Toropov takes on some of the most urgent and complex issues facing our civilisation. Terrorism, the clash of ideologies, the role of women; so many moral dilemmas on a global scale set the stage for a thriller that at heart - as its title suggests - also captures love amongst the wreckage.

Thelonius Liddell, an intelligence officer working for the CIA, is sent on a covert mission to Islamic City, leaving his wife, Becky, at home. We know from the outs
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing

This is an interesting book. It transcends genre. It’s a novel that resists pigeon holing. If I had to categorise it, I would classify it as a literary-political/contemporary thriller. But it’s so much more than this description implies.

Jihadi is told from the perspective of Thelonius Liddell, a disgraced American intelligence officer, who is now held in a CIA black site deemed a traitor. He is suspected of “going native”, converting to Islam and throwing his lot in with al Qaida. His former wi
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There are times when you come across a novel that really takes your breath away and Jihadi: A Love Story by Yusuf Toropov is one such book. Many will look at the title and may be confused by the title. Do not be deterred. Read on!

This is a novel that starts slowly and gathers pace and hits the reader like an express train. Persist with this and it delivers on all fronts and the writing from Toropov is nothing short of exceptional.
The story is written and presented as a memoir of the former CIA
Victoria Goldman
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jihadi is an intelligently written novel that wasn't always an easy read, mainly because of the vivid descriptions that shocked and evoked some powerful emotions. It's definitely a book that needs to be read slowly, so you can digest it one step at a time.

Yusuf Toropov has written a very modern highly-topical novel focusing on a former US intelligence agent who has been accused of terrorism. But this isn't a straightforward 'innocent or guilty' story - his memoir is being read and annotated by a
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American novelist, nonfiction writer, and playwright. Author of JIHADI: A LOVE STORY, a literary thriller available from Orenda Books.

I was born a Muslim, but only realized that in 2003.

An aim of mine in this world is to Win the Pulitzer, inshaAllah. I like books I read twice. Disagree with civility, please.

Creating a powerful global conversation about #coexistence and #literature and #culture a

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For hard-core book lovers, the month of December is a mixed blessing. Those relentless holiday obligations tend to cut into reading time....
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