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THE WEST AND ITS OTHER: LITERARY RESPONSES TO 9/11

Mohan G. Ramanan

Abstract


This paper initially considers Don de Lillo’s Faiing Man, John Updike’s Terrorist, Ian McEwan’s Saturday and shows how in spite of considerable fictional dexterity all three fail in various ways to respond to the trauma of 9/11. The paper argues that mainstream American and British responses are variously blighted by the Huntington thesis of the clash of civilizations, Baudrillardian hyper reality and pseudo-Islamic scholarship, and a pull away from the large events of our world into domesticity. If one wants a more satisfying response one must perhaps turn to an ethnic writer like Mohsin Hamid, whose The Reluctant Fundamentalist engages with 9/11 and terror more frontally. The paper goes on to consider the Pakistani woman Mukhtar Mai’s narrative In the Name of Honour: A Memoir, and the Afghan writer Khaled Hosseini’s two novels, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. It suggests that, while these insider texts are not about 9/11 centrally, but about a post 9/11 world dominated by fundamentalist Talibanism, they are heavily compromised by their dependence on American authenticating interventions and patronage. The exploration of these texts raises questions about whether terror and trauma can be represented at all, who may represent it, how much and to whom. These are centrally ethical considerations.

Key words: Terror, trauma, Don de Lillo, John Updike, Ian McEwan.


Keywords


Terror, trauma, Don de Lillo, John Updike, Ian McEwan

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Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American Studies

ISSN: 1137-6368