The Emerging Literature of Sept. 11

By Steve Almond

Sept. 8, 2011

BOSTON —Steve AlmondIn the aftermath of September 11, 2001 a clear story began to emerge: Hijackers took control of planes. Those planes were flown into The Pentagon and World Trade Center towers. The towers collapsed. Thousands of people died. But of course, that isn't the whole story. The facts alone can never tell the whole story. In the decade since September 11, 2001, a body of literature has emerged, as writers of both fiction and non-fiction have attempted to process, understand and express what happened on that tragic day. Here is author and regular Emily Rooney Show contributor Steve Almond's take on that body of literature.

Falling Man by Don DeLillo
"DeLillo had been writing about terrorism for years before 9/11. In fact, a decade before the attacks, he wrote a book called Mao II, which envisions an age in which the novelist’s power to 'alter the inner life of the culture' has been hijacked by terrorists whose 'major work involves midair explosions and crumbled buildings.' This is one of the few (maybe the only) book that’s about actual survivors of the attacks."
The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
"This great book clearly explains who Al-Qaeda is and what led them to the actions they took on 9/11.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
"This best-known 9/11 novel will soon be a motion picture. It has been a divisive work, with its fair share of supporters and critics alike. While the book contains some beautiful writing, I count myself among those in the latter camp."

Firehouse by David Halberstam
"Halberstam specialized in small human stories. This book is about the Engine 40, Ladder 35 firehouse, an Upper West Side company that sent 13 men to the World Trade Center, and lost all but one of them. He uses the intimate memories of survivors to bring the story alive."

The Last Days of Muhammad Atta by Martin Amis
"Only attempt to get inside the head of the terrorists themselves."
Other Works
9/11 Commission Report
In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman
The Good Life by Jay McInerney
Saturday by Ian McEwan
The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud
The Submission by Amy Waldman

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