The Good Terrorist


The Good Terrorist is a 1985 political novel written by the British novelist Doris Lessing. It was first published in September that year by Jonathan Cape in the United Kingdom and by Alfred A. Knopf in the United States. The book's protagonist is the naïve drifter Alice, who squats with a group of radicals in London and is drawn into their terrorist activities.

Lessing was spurred to write The Good Terrorist by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombing of the Harrods department store in London in 1983. She had been a member of the British Communist Party, but left after the 1956 Hungarian uprising. Some reviewers labelled the novel a satire, while Lessing called it humorous. The title is an oxymoron which highlights Alice's ambivalent nature.

The Good Terrorist divided reviewers. Some praised its insight and characterisation, others faulted its style and the characters' lack of depth. One critic complimented Lessing's "strong descriptive prose and her precise and realistic characterisations",[1] another her "brilliant account of the types of individuals who commit terrorist acts",[2] yet another called it "surprisingly bland",[3] and the characters "trivial or two-dimensional or crippled by self-delusions".[3] The Good Terrorist was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and won the Mondello Prize and the WH Smith Literary Award.

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