Why do novels and studies originating in the United States and Europe sympathetically depict Middle Eastern women who commit or support forms of violence identified as terrorist? This article draws on scholarship on cosmopolitanism and the sentimental novel, as well as on novelistic and journalistic accounts of Palestinian female suicide bombers from the United States and Algeria/France: Barbara Victor’s Army of Roses: Inside the World of Palestinian Suicide Bombers (Rodale, 2003) and Yasmina Khadra’s The Attack (Doubleday, 2005). It argues that sentimental terror narratives use gendered, maternal imagery to produce a liberal stance on terrorism that combines sympathetic comprehension of the forces that foster violence with condemnation of the violence itself. The article uses Syrian novelist Khaled Khalifa’s Madih al-Karahiya (In Praise of Hatred, 2006) as an alternative literary depiction of gender and violence, aimed at a Syrian audience, that produces non-normative forms of sympathy to foster national reconciliation after civil conflict.

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