Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Cultural impact

Authors began producing 9/11 novels as early as 2002 as a way of recognizing the tragedy. Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel was one of many that confronted the aftermath of the attacks through the eyes of a New Yorker. However, 9/11 fiction is not only a new subgenre, but a new struggle for many authors. Richard Gray stated in his book on 9/11 literature After The Fall, “If there was one thing writers agreed about in response to 9/11, it was the failure of language; the terrorist attacks made the tools of their trade seem absurd.”[5] There was a desire to write about the experience, to recognize the individual impact, as well as the greater social impact, while appreciating the mourning of the country, but many authors found it difficult to do so.

Foer utilizes the child narrator in an attempt to connect with that struggle. The struggle of the child to understand the trauma is reflective of the struggle many faced after the trauma of the 9/11 attacks.

Foer’s novel was one of the most popular and widely read novels of this post 9/11 fiction subgenre. Because of its great popularity, its message had a greater impact than many novels of its kind. Apart from the terrorist attacks of September 11, the novel also sheds light on the experience of terrible tragedy. Rebecca Miller of the Library Journal claims “Foer nimbly explores the misunderstandings that compound when grief silences its victims.”[6] The novel makes sense of and provides a way of moving on from the grief of the specific catastrophe. “[F]ew works of literature have succeeded in drawing lasting meaning, whole or fragmentary, from modernity's string of catastrophes…” but Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is one of them, providing a tool to create understanding of grief and loss.[7]

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