Jihad for Dummies by Ian King


Ian King’s Jihad for Dummies refuses to delicately step over issues of controversy and vehement debate. Instead, King creates a space in which controversy lives and breathes, thriving in his characters and throwing caution to the literary winds. King’s novel focuses on the massive confusion surrounding religious ideals and the paths people take that lead them to commit heinous crimes in the name of a faceless deity or philosophy. Jihad for Dummies follows the intersecting lives of different Pakistani, English, and Somalian characters, all of whom represent conflicting ideals and ideologies. King pushes the boundaries of political, social, and religious dialogue, taking on the stereotypes surrounding Muslims as well as the activities that reinforce them, and going even further by interweaving the harsh realities of sexism into the tale. Characters seemingly unrelated suddenly find themselves meshed together in unexpected ways in Jihad for Dummies, ways that are sometimes terrifying, sometimes encouraging.

King’s novel is undoubtedly coarse. By coarse it is meant that the language and images used represent grotesque realities which may turn the stomachs of more delicate readers. For the staunch reader, King’s diction is likely to be perceived as refreshing and brutally honest. King has a style of writing that persistently pursues the politically incorrect and the morally ambiguous. You might read Jihad for Dummies purely for entertainment, but you may find yourself walking away from the story shaken and pondering political and philosophical questions that may have not occurred to you organically. King’s characters may lack supremely complex development, and his portrayal of the female mind may feel a little flat, but the general genius behind this timely and unapologetic novel is undeniable.