It is commonly understood that one of the primary responsibilities of an author is to tackle the toughest topics. There’s a vast body of literature about some of the darkest periods of human history, from World War, to genocide, to disease.
However, it is the contention of many critics and authors that the great unturned stone in fiction is 9/11 and its ramifications. The event shook the world to its core, and many believe that words were futile devices in trying to glean some sort of meaning from the attacks. Some authors were brave enough to take on the challenge.
Here some great books about post 9/11 America:
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
While this one is only tangentially related to 9/11, it is generally lumped in with the genre of what is now called “post 9/11 fiction.” The fact is, any book written after 9/11 is dealing with a radically altered world, through the perspective of a radically altered cultural consciousness. This Franzen novel examines social changes through a Midwestern family coming up in the early 2000’s, and it is a great example of an author wading through the slogans to get to deeper truth through fiction.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
The second book from wunderkind Jonathan Safran Foer follows the journey of a young autistic boy, who is convinced his father has left him clues to a hidden treasure, after being killed in the twin towers. The book is not so much about the attacks, as it is about a grieving NYC, which the young protagonist explores in depth. It’s a wildly adventurous and visceral novel, that will have you feeling the full spectrum of emotions.
The Submission by Amy Waldman
This 2011 fiction debut from Amy Waldman plunged headlong into the cold waters of the palpable tension of post 9/11 New York City. The book follows a committee appointed to deciding the winner of the 9/11 memorial design. When the anonymously selected winner turns out to be a young Muslim man, a fraught debate ensues. It’s a riveting read chock full of poignant dialogue and, difficult questions. It’s totally ripe for the big screen, so where’s that adaptation?
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
This 2010 Pulitzer prize winner took the reading world by storm with its unconventional structure and revolutionary style, including an entire chapter in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. The novel examines massive ideological shifts through the lens of an evolving music industry, and the reverberations of the September 11th attacks. This is far from a political novel. It’s a mind bending meditation on time, culture, technology, music, and change.
Featured Image courtesy of CBS.