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Here Comes a Book About a 9/11 Hijacker and His Stripper

Novelist Andre Dubus III wanted to write a book about a stripper. Instead he ended up telling a story about sordid events leading up to September 11, 2001.

At the center of the 535-page novel — The Garden of Last Days — sits Bassam, one of the 9/11 hijackers, who spent time at a Florida strip club four days before the attack. The story follows a few other characters as well, including a stripper who takes her child to work while she dances for the would be terrorist, a drunk patron, and an elderly landlady.

In a note to book reviewers, the author explains his motivation for telling this story:

In the weeks after that brutal September morning, we began to learn something of the hijackers. We learned that many of them had trained in Florida, that they'd been seen visiting strip clubs. This was confusing. How could these young men be self-described holy warriors but also frequent strip clubs? But what lingered for me even more than this was the image of cash on a bedroom bureau in Florida, money earned by a woman who'd danced for one or more of them.

Are you intrigued by the internal struggles of a 9/11 hijacker and the stripper who danced for him? Will this appeal for even minimal empathy change the way readers think about terrorism?


Join The Conversation
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I wonder how it ends?
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
He may have been an Islamic radical, but let's not forget he was also a man. Looks like Jr. dictated his share terms.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
Hmmmm....can't say I will run out and buy it...
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
Is it fiction based on fact or just straight fiction, popgoes?
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I really enjoyed The House of Sand and Fog and I'm looking forward to reading this. I don't necessarily think this guy is going for empathy, and we should also remember this will be a work of fiction.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
this certainly does point out how hypocritical some were. it just points to the fact that one's religion (fanatic or not) can't trump a human being's sex drive. these guys were getting ready to die for their god - but they still wanted to get a little action in before the end. ugh. what a stupid waste.
stephley stephley 9 years
Can't say I want to run right out and buy it, but I would read it and think more people should. From reading about Nazi war criminals, non-fiction and fiction, I'm most impressed by the fact that people who seem to be real monsters are often in fact pretty banal - the Nazis kept insisting to shrinks they were just doing their jobs and why did people make such a big deal, nice enough to their families and friends. I remember reading too, that the woman who sold Mohammed Atta his plane ticket was having real emotional problems in the months after the attack.
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
I honestly don't care what those terrorists did on their spare time. :oy:
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