The NS Recommends: Novels for 9/11

Harbor (2004) Lorraine Adams
Adams, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the Washington Post, conjures up the lives of Algerian immigrants in the US in her debut novel. Aziz, Ghazi and Mourad have terrible jobs and their phones are tapped by the FBI. As one of them is drawn into a terrorist plot, the complexity of Algerian politics gets lost in a narrative of Muslim terrorism.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005) Jonathan Safran Foer
Oskar Schell is an earnest, precocious nine-year-old whose father died in the 9/11 attacks. His discovery of a key in a vase leads him to a manuscript containing his grandparents' testimony of their courtship and marriage - and the firebombing of Dresden. Oskar then embarks on a moving exploration of memory and history.

Saturday (2005) Ian McEwan
Set on 15 February 2003, the date of the march against the Iraq war, Saturday follows the movements of Henry Perowne, a liberal neurosurgeon, as he muses on the history behind the protest.

The Good Life (2006) Jay McInerney
In this sequel to Brightness Falls (1992), McInerney's cast of literary New Yorkers goes through the same round of dinner parties, drug habits, novels and affairs a decade later - until they get caught up in the terrorist attacks. A typically fine social comedy punctured by tragedy.

The Emperor's Children (2006) Claire Messud
A group of spoiled thirtysomethings living in Manhattan is disturbed by the arrival of a provincial cousin, as time advances inexorably towards the attacks of 11 September 2001. Messud dramatises how the ideals and pleasures of US liberals were shocked by the events of the new decade.

Falling Man (2007) Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo's short, concentrated novel focuses on a couple - both survivors of the attacks - and their middle-class friends and families. They struggle with the trauma of the events as a performance artist goes around New York re-enacting the deaths of those who jumped from the twin towers: just one of the memories of that day which saturate this story.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) Mohsin Hamid
Changez, a Princeton graduate with a seemingly successful life - a job on Wall Street and a beautiful girlfriend - tells his story to a mysterious American on a return trip to his native Lahore. He explains how, in the heightened atmosphere of Islamophobia in the months after 9/11, he gradually turned into a radical. Hamid's narrative examines how identity can be disturbed by historical events.

Netherland (2008) Joseph O'Neill
Highly acclaimed on its publication, Netherland concerns Hans, a Dutch-born financial analyst who is adrift in New York. He befriends the Trinidadian entrepreneur Chuck Ramkissoon, with whom he plays cricket. The sport is a kind of salvation as Hans's marriage flounders and he struggles to understand the course of his life in a city recently unsettled by terrorism.

Next (2010) James Hynes
, like McEwan's Saturday, takes place during the course of one day. The narrator, Kevin Quinn, is an ageing academic from Ann Arbor, Michigan, killing time in Austin, Texas, before a job interview. Dissatisfied and nostalgic, he finds his life interrupted by an unimaginable event.

Open City (2011) Teju Cole
Julius, a psychologist-in-training and of mixed German and Nigerian descent, is a stranger to New York. In eloquent, philosophical prose, he describes his wanderings, reflecting on the city while recovering from a break-up. Cole's novel is a meditation on how, after the attacks, everyone is displaced.

The Submission (2011) Amy Waldman
A design competition for a 9/11 memorial causes controversy when it is won by an American Muslim architect, in a story that mirrors the hysteria surrounding the "Ground Zero Mosque". Waldman depicts the lives of a range of characters touched by the attacks and dramatises the conflict over the legacy of 9/11 as it reverberates through US society.

This article first appeared in the 05 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, 9/11

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SRSLY #13: Take Two

On the pop culture podcast this week, we discuss Michael Fassbender’s Macbeth, the recent BBC adaptations of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Cider with Rosie, and reminisce about teen movie Shakespeare retelling She’s the Man.

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

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SRSLY is hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s web editor and editorial assistant. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

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The Links

On Macbeth

Ryan Gilbey’s review of Macbeth.

The trailer for the film.

The details about the 2005 Macbeth from the BBC’s Shakespeare Retold series.


On Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Cider with Rosie

Rachel Cooke’s review of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Sarah Hughes on Cider with Rosie, and the BBC’s attempt to create “heritage television for the Downton Abbey age”.


On She’s the Man (and other teen movie Shakespeare retellings)

The trailer for She’s the Man.

The 27 best moments from the film.

Bim Adewunmi’s great piece remembering 10 Things I Hate About You.


Next week:

Anna is reading Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner.


Your questions:

We loved talking about your recommendations and feedback this week. If you have thoughts you want to share on anything we've discussed, or questions you want to ask us, please email us on srslypod[at], or @ us on Twitter @srslypod, or get in touch via tumblr here. We also have Facebook now.



The music featured this week, in order of appearance, is:


Our theme music is “Guatemala - Panama March” (by Heftone Banjo Orchestra), licensed under Creative Commons. 



See you next week!

PS If you missed #12, check it out here.

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

Anna Leszkiewicz is the New Statesman's editorial assistant.