11 September 2001

The Value of Artistic Responses to 9/11: "September 11, 2001" and "Falling Man" College

“Fact or fiction? Which is the best way to handle an event as momentous as 9/11?” – Michael Billington.

In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, media and non-fictional responses were rife; the image of the burning Twin Towers is one which has become embedded in the global consciousness. However, amongst these ‘factual’ depictions, there emerged a new genre of fiction: 9/11 fiction. Indeed, novelists, playwrights and poets all came forward with their attempts at responding to the tragedy through the medium of the literary arts. Don DeLillo’s Falling Man[1] and Michel Vinaver’s September 11, 2001[2] are just two instances of these responses. However, 9/11 fiction is a significantly problematic genre. The necessity to convey something that goes beyond spectacle, combined with the perceived obligation to present the event respectfully, renders it a difficult task to confront. Aimee Pozorski epitomises this perceived dilemma of the literary artist: “Those artists who choose beauty must answer for their aestheticization of violence. Those artists who choose minimalism must answer for their reductive symbols. Those artists who choose nothing must answer for their silence”[3]. In light of this, it can be argued that fiction is unable...

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