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In the shadow of the twin towers

American fiction writers are still struggling to put words to the horror of September 11th—and only a few have succeeded

By Adam Kirsch   June 2011

To read responses to this piece by American novelists Siri Hustvedt, Stefan Merrill Block and Teddy Wayne, see below

After the death of Osama bin Laden, and approaching the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, it is tempting to declare the end of the 9/11 era. Looking at US culture and politics today, however, it becomes clear that historical traumas do not have such clear half-lives. In American fiction, certainly, there’s no sign that the trauma has been resolved. On the contrary, the sheer number of novelists who have treated the subject, and their very mixed record of…

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