The Word and the Bomb
The selected essays in "The Words And The Bomb"are penned from a critical standpoint, minus the two chapters which are excerpts of two fictions of the author.
With lucid language, the author has delineated the discomfort of second-generation immigrants, who have a hard time navigating the sense of belonging given they inevitably struggle to completely erase from memory the colonial past. Not having a connection with their national roots makes it easy for them to fall prey to the idealization of religion, the only source of truth to submit to.
Born to Pakistani parents in Britain, Kureishi finds himself more like a Westerner, who is, nonetheless, capable of understanding both the worlds. He is critical to both sides, however, to me it seemed he is more critical towards the Muslim (individuals and communities) living in Europe "too independently", being ignorant about the afterlife, not having a will to ever return to the motherland despite a vibrant feeling of patriotism.
Through the essays, Kureishi has introduced many debates and curated quite a few examples which would sound familiar to anyone from Asian Muslim countries and anyone who knows how Muslims customize their ways of expression while being in a Western country (despite despising the culture). Available options from the never-ending tussle between choosing to live a happy life and to have a danger-free afterlife make sense to different generations differently. That's one of the many debates he introduced and didn't delve deeper.
Readers may find it hard stick to a specific point of view since the compiled essays vary in genre. Moreover, the jargons (Puritanism, for instance) employed could bewilder the reader who are not familiar with the concepts. Nevertheless, it is an easy read, given the eloquent story-telling style and minimalist vocabulary.
This book is a thought-provoking one in the sense that it will, literally, make you think while providing you with multiple reasons to ponder about familiar instances of the socio-political condition of Muslims in their homelands and in Western countries. However, what further thoughts the author had brain-mapped regarding the aspects were not mentioned anywhere in this 100-page book.
The reviewer is a student of Anthropology, Second year, BRAC University