Writing In the Wake of 9/11

Catherine Morley

in American Thought and Culture in the 21st Century

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780748626014
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670673 | DOI:
Writing In the Wake of 9/11

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Focusing on long and short prose pieces which emerged in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, this chapter traces the shift from writers’ personal responses to the events to more considered, longer fictional works. The author, Catherine Morley, observes how many writers felt bereft of purpose after the attacks, unable to find words commensurate with the visual spectacle and psychological devastation of the day. While covering a range of contemporary literary writers including Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith and Jay McInerney, the chapter concentrates on Don DeLillo’s novel Falling Man (2007), John Updike’s Terrorist (2007) and a selection of works from Ulrich Baer’s edited collection, 110 Stories: New York Writers After September 11 (2002), including Siri Hustvedt’s short essay on the inefficacy of language in the wake of trauma. The discussion of DeLillo and Updike addresses themes such as performance, spectacle, memory, language and the redemptive role of art in the processes of grief.

Keywords: 9/11; Contemporary American Literature; Visual Spectacle; Don DeLillo; John Updike; Siri Hustvedt

Chapter.  6606 words. 

Subjects: Cultural Studies

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