Fiction Wrestles with Global Terrorism

Taylor Antrim applauds Lorraine Adams' stellar new novel for being even better than nonfiction at capturing our messy world of politics, espionage, and journalism. Plus: View his picks of other great novels based on current events.

Saturday
By Ian McEwan

McEwan's most gripping novel perfectly gauges the ambivalence beneath the anti-war mood in London just weeks before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Checkpoint
By Nicholson Baker

In The New York Times, critic Leon Wieseltier called this slim novella of two friends debating an imagined assassination of George W. Bush inflammatory, irresponsible, a "scummy little book." Only the first description is true.

Mao II
By Don DeLillo

DeLillo's strange, and frequently funny, meditation on creativity, mass movements and terrorism, set in 1989, still feels pressingly of the moment.

Philadelphia Fire
By John Edgar Wideman

Wideman's quasi fictional investigation into the 1985 firebombing of the Afrocentric MOVE commune in Philadelphia is a dense and rivetingly personal cri de coeur on race in America's cities.

Rabbit Redux
By John Updike

Set in the summer of 1969 and full of that year's sexual and racial politics, this is unjustly considered the weakest of the Rabbit novels. To me it's Updike at his bravest and most lyrically profane.