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The Terrorist by Barry Levy



The Terrorist

Ben Fine is no ordinary Australian… but these aren't exactly ordinary times.

A clash of cultures has beset the world: George W. Bush has declared the War on Terror, and the Fines, a Jewish family with a dog named Lenin, have taken in a Muslim homestay student. Despite the Fines' liberalist ideology and their best intentions to show their guest how the world can be a better place, Ben begins to fear that terror may lurk even within his own household.

The 2006 Lebanon War between Hezbollah and Israel breaks out… not just on TV, but in the Fines' living-room. All hell breaks loose in the Fine household as Ben Fine turns defender of the Jewish nation and Western freedom.

Sometimes funny, sometimes dark… the ending will leave you breathless...


Other books by Barry Levy:

As If! (novel)

Shades of Exodus (novel)

Sawdust (co-author of Deborah Kay's memoir)


Barry Levy
Barry Levy

Barry Levy is an award-winning journalist who moved with his Australian wife and two children from South Africa to Australia in 1984 because of their abhorrence of apartheid. Levy has published three previous works of fiction: Burning Bright, a story of young love, hate and child abuse set against a background of apartheid South Africa (available in English and Italian); As If! a gritty, realistic depiction of life on the streets for Australian kids; and Shades of Exodus, a soul-searching portrait of migrants to Australia, focussing on South Africans.


Levy has been a winner of the Australian Human Rights Award for Journalism, for multiple series of stories on child sex abuse, domestic violence and homelessness; a winner of the Anning Barton Memorial Award for Outstanding Journalism (Central Queensland), for a series of stories on child sex abuse (incest-rape); and a Walkley Awards Queensland State finalist, for his series on homelessness.


Other publications by Levy include The Glazer Kidnapping, the true story of one of the kidnappers involved in the world’s biggest kidnap of its time, which took place in South Africa in the mid-sixties; short story ‘The Promised Land’, published in At the Rendezvous of Victory, a compilation under the title of principal author and Nobel Literature Prize laureate Nadine Gordimer; and ‘The Souls from Nowhereland’, a chapter in recent compilation Should I Stay or Should I Go, which highlights the ongoing dilemma and argument around emigration for South Africans. Levy is currently working as co-author on a memoir of child abuse in Australia, expected to be released early 2013.




ISBN 9781922120076  (PB, 298pp)
152mm x 229mm

AUD $33 USD $25 NZD $37 GBP £16 EUR €19

ISBN 9781922120083  (eBook)

AUD $17 USD $15 NZD $19 GBP £10 EUR €12

"Ben Fine is the sort of character you might meet in a novel by, say, Ian McEwan and that is a good thing. Fine is Jewish, middle-aged, disgruntled, paranoid and he watches way too much television.
The strength of this novel is Fine's inner life and musings on what it means to be Jewish (he is a South African Jew who has settled in Brisbane) in a global context. He thinks about this as the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon plays out on the small screen. The question is measured against Muslim home-stay student, Ahmed, who is getting far too friendly with Fine's daughter, Mirri.
It's the personal stuff of most interest in this novel.
There is something engaging and original about this journey in a suburban Brisbanite's heart of darkness."
- Phil Brown, The Courier-Mail

"The Terrorist provides an exquisite new account into the psychological sequelae of historical and community trauma. Levy's hard hitting novel shows how exposure to the unpredictable and ubiquitous threat of modern terrorism can retrigger this trauma with disastrous consequences, even without direct experience of the original trauma. With outstanding insight, we are progressed through the anguish and hyper-vigilance of a father as he tries to assess the personal threat to his family. Ben Fine hovers on a thin line between great lucidity and insanity. We witness the systematic development of a father's psychological dysfunction with its progressive and poignant unravelling of his relationship with his daughter. The conclusion is soul-wrenching."
– Professor Ian Shochet, Queensland University of Technology

"Whether he is writing fiction or telling us a story about an event in his life, Barry Levy's books are always unputdownable. He has a fresh, honest, often amusing outlook on life, which comes through in whatever he writes. He is an accomplished writer, with hopefully many more books to put under his belt. The latest is as good as the rest - fast, interesting, with a touch of wry humour and an insight into the characters that makes them all totally believable. A must read."
– Sharon Preston

"...a self-described cautionary tale. Titled The Terrorist, it was launched in Brisbane late last year and tells the story of a Jewish father confronted by a culturally-proud Arab Muslim exchange student staying in his home."
The Westside News

"The Terrorist is a dark and humorous story of our times. Hard-hitting and entertaining, it is unafraid to ask difficult questions - and yet is a cautionary tale at its best."
– Rachelle White

"I couldn't put it down. When Ben Fine was in the darkened room I felt almost suffocated ... the description was so real...my heart was racing. The ending ... was totally not what I was expecting ... so much so that I read the last few chapters a second time ... If I was some pseudo intellectual I would liken Ben Fine to a William Butler Yeatsian type image - a 'and what rough beast its hour come round at last' kind of soul."
– Angelique Oltvolgyi

"Excellent and disturbing. I was expecting the end - but when it came it left me in deep and perplexed thought. This is a book that asks the oft avoided questions about complex issues - and they come from a complex and difficult yet entertaining mind."
– A. Shrock

"I haven't read this author before. Once I picked The Terrorist up I was swept along (and up and down and round and round, and eventually I survived the dramatic waterfall!). I couldn't put it down. Levy has a special brilliance with stringing words and story together, and it is complicated, intense, funny, traumatic and engrossing, but it was easy to read. I'm going to read more by this author."
– Arlette Franks

"The Terrorist is  Barry Levy at his best.  I laughed out aloud at the comic scenes.  The paranoid Jewish father imagining the worst, criticising his family and the house guest – all against the background of a horrendous war seen on the television. ... I was driven by the depth in the diversity of arguments and the contrast displayed between family members.  This is indeed a high quality tragicomedy of a family struggling with changing circumstances and their sense of 'Jewishness'."
- Denzil Hersch

"I commend you on a most readable book. The intensity, in-depth descriptions, humour and intrigue of how September 11 has changed so many peoples' perceptions of Muslims and how trust has become intensely compromised are excellently represented. There is a bit of Ben and Mirri Fine in all of us!"
- Glenda Fehler



Barry Levy's LinkedIn profile

Information on the 2006 Lebanon War



Excerpt from Chapter 1

Ben Fine had a past. A past that collided with his entire God-given band. And as he sat there and watched the explosions on his little TV, he saw the man he had become and wondered if the wild, radical youth inside the flesh was ever real. How there could ever have been a time when he did not side with this, his inter-seminal mob of stiff-necked fools.

Snorting, seeing before him the racism of his own mum and dad, of their mum and dad before that, carrying the scars and tumours of their own ice-cold Ukrainian and Lithuanian pasts into his Occidental present. Seeing them grow from hated into hater, gliding into this safe island-continent from their years of glorious and racist sojourn in a golden African past.

Turning before him memories of sitting at the dinner table arguing. Words spitting into the neck of his thin-veined father. His Father Who Art in His Own Veins. Spit shooting warm, then hot, then blue, until... serviettes flying, there was no choice but to leave the table in a deep red fog of mutual disrespect.

It was not easy to be a rebel in those days in Melbourne and join the CPA, the CPA not an organisation of Certified Practicing Accountants as Mum and Dad would so dearly have loved - our boy the financial planner - but the Communist Party of Australia that everyone but everyone dreaded. That word – Commo – souring the breath even of the most fanatic liberal Aussie breast.

In the wrinkled, stone-white skin of ageing parents who came from that dark place in Africa - South Africa - it was nothing less than a sin. A sin! Why did so many of them have to be Jews? Yes, even in that country of his mother and father – Afrique de Sud – Jews raised their voices. Just not all of them.

And yet, Ben sat there, the neon-bright bombs criss-crossing the room in front of him, and saw how even he had come around, eventually allowing pragmatism - a vision arising from the soiled-white reality of baby nappies, of family, of parenthood – to take over from the cold dialectical logic, the so-called ‘science’ of revolution, and settle into a rational point in preserving one’s own.

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