The Last Night of a Damned Soul
Publication Date: August 2004
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Slimane Benaïssa's writings have established him as one of France's most important thinkers engaging the topic of Islam and the West. Inspired by the author's grief over September 11, The Last Night of a Damned Soul tells the story of a young Arab-American man who joins a Muslim fundamentalist group and winds up conspiring to plot a terrorist attack.
Born into a moderate Muslim family in the Bay Area, Raouf has never strongly identified with his Islamic heritage. Pragmatic and scientifically minded, he has an American girlfriend he plans to marry-but his father's untimely death throws Raouf into a spiritual crisis. In this vulnerable state he falls under the influence of a Palestinian coworker, who brings Raouf to the radical mosque where he worships. Raouf immerses himself in the impassioned embrace of Islam, cutting off contact with his girlfriend and even his mother. Raouf's divided loyalties will be put to the test when his new spiritual leaders reveal their mission for him: to take part in plotting a terrorist attack.
The Last Night of a Damned Soul is a disturbing explication of the psychological, political, and religious realities that may underpin terrorism, and a rich and timely novel.
Daniel Gross, the "Moneybox" columnist for "Slate", is the author of several books and is a contributor to the "Economic View" column in the Sunday "New York Times". His writing also appears frequently in magazines such as "New York" and "Wired". Gross was educated at Cornell University and holds an A.M. in American history from Harvard University. He lives with his family in Connecticut.