“Writing Back” to Don DeLillo’s Falling Man


Author(s): Hossein PIRNAJMUDDIN, Abbasali BORHAN

Since the catastrophic events of 9/11 and its aftermath, the discourse of terrorism has become one of the dominant preoccupations of American literature. Don DeLillo is one of the preeminent masters of contemporary fiction whose novels of terror, both before and after 9/11, have spurred a great deal of criticism. What distinguishes his novels from the spate of 9/11 fiction is his obsession with the terrorist narrative long before the day “silver cross[ed] the blue.” This study will focus on his Falling Man, which directly gets to grips with the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and is credited with being one of the most genuine responses to it to date. In this novel, DeLillo (2007) manifestly identifies terrorism with Islam. Adopting an orientalist position, the writer tells the story of a group of Muslims who blatantly conduct the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in an attempt to take revenge on the West for its unrestrained growth in the course of modernity. As such, he lays the blame on Islam as being incompatible with the West’s history of civilization. Thus, in his putatively historiographic rendering of 9/11, DeLillo, focusing on the American, or generally speaking “hegemonic,” side of the event, complies with the governmental discourses and presents a totalizing reading of it. Drawing on Edward Said’s theories, this paper aims to shed light on DeLillo’s inscription of Orientalist discourse in Falling Man.


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