Remembering 9-11 Through Fiction

Northwest One Library

Remembering 9-11 Through Fiction

History has always been fuel for fiction, and with the recent passing of 9/11 on the calendar, my thoughts turned to how writers have dealt with it in their storytelling. It turns out that quite a number of writers have used 9/11 in their work -- often as a catalyst for characters to reexamine their lives (just as so many of us did in our own worlds).

And of course, reading fiction can also serve as a form of therapy (one that has its own name, "bibliotherapy," and is used by professional therapists), and reading fiction about 9/11 is another way of grappling with our own fears and anxieties about life. Below are 16 works of adult fiction in which 9/11 plays a major role, by writers famous and relatively unknown, all available through your library.

A Day at the Beach
A Day at the Beach by Helen Schulman
Set over the course of a day, a Manhattan couple's marriage is bent to the breaking point as they flee to the Hamptons on 9/11.
The Days of Awe by Hugh Nissenson
In the aftermath of 9/11, an elderly Jewish New Yorker returns to his faith to cope with the tragedy.
The Days of Awe by Hugh Nissenson Jacket Art
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer Jacket Art
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
A 9-year-old boy whose father died in the World Trade Center on 9/11 discovers a mysterious object in his father's closet.
Falling Man by Don Delillo
A lawyer who escapes the World Trade Center on 9/11 stumbles through the following months trying to make sense of it all.
 
Falling Man by Don Delillo Jacket Art
The Future of Love by Shirley Abbott Jacket Art
The Future of Love by Shirley Abbott
9/11 is the catalyst for major decisions by the New Yorkers who populate this dark comedy.
 
The Good Life by Jay McInerney
The human response to tragedy is told through this story of how four upscale Manhattanites change after 9/11.
The Good Life Jacket Art
The Good Priest's Son Jacket Art
The Good Priest's Son by Reynolds Price
A middle-aged art conservator returning home to New York on 9/11 finds his plane diverted due to the attacks, and instead makes his way home to North Carolina where he faces his family and his past.


Home Boy by H.Q. Navi
Three young Pakistani immigrants leave New York on a road trip after 9/11 and find the heart of America less welcoming than expected.
Home Boy Jacket Art
One Tuesday Morning by Karen Kingsbury Jacket Art
One Tuesday Morning by Karen Kingsbury
Inspirational novel about a New York firefighter injured on 9/11 and his family's attempts to help him recover.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
A young, urbane Pakistani man just graduated from Princeton returns to Pakistan after 9/11 and reconsiders his relationship to the West.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid Jacket Art
The Terrorist by John Updike Jacket ArtThe Terrorist by John Updike
In post-9/11 America, a teenage boy finds himself attracted to the idea of becoming a terrorist on behalf of Islam.


The Third Brother by Nick McDonell
The chaos of 9/11 forms the backdrop to the second half of this book about a young reporter already coping with a family disaster.


The Third Brother by Nick McDonell Jacket Art
The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard Jacket Art
The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard
When a 13-year-old Brooklyn girl loses her mother on 9/11, she decides to leave New York to live with her long-estranged father.
When I Forgot by Elina Hirvonen
A reporter in Finland relives the emotional trauma of 9/11 years later as she visits her institutionalized brother.
When I Forgot by Elina Hirvonen Jacket Art
The Writing on the Wall by Lynne Sharon Schwartz Jacket Art
The Writing on the Wall by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
A librarian's cloistered world is ripped apart as she walks across the Brooklyn Bridge on 9/11 and sees a plane hit the World Trade Center.
 
The Zero by Jess Walter
A New York cop suffering from memory gaps stumbles through a Kafakaesque post-9/11 New York full of shadowy government figures and more.
Jacket of The Zero by Jess Walter