Richard Flanagan’s The Unknown Terrorist is a tale of mistaken identity and unforeseen consequences. The Doll, whose real name is Gina, works as a pole dancer in Sydney, trying to save enough money to buy her dream home and quit her job to go back to school.
After a one-night stand with an attractive stranger, The Doll finds herself the prime suspect in a foiled terrorist plot to blow up Sydney landmarks. As she flees from the police, The Doll also tries to escape her abusive childhood, failed relationship, and the devastating loss of her child. Meanwhile, an aging TV reporter adept at embellishing tales, decides that The Doll’s story of “Aussie girl to terrorist” is the perfect way to re-start his career.
Flanagan describes a globalized, post-9/11 world where the fears of terrorism and urbanization weaken community ties and where the media privileges ratings above truth. A beautifully written but disturbing book, the reader wonders, as The Doll does, how easily it is for the world to “turn a truth into a lie.”
Review Submitted by: Kaitlyn Grigsby