Published to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, 9/11 Gothic: Decrypting Ghosts and Trauma in New York City’s Terrorism Novels returns to the ruins and anguish of 9/11 to pose a question not yet addressed by scholarship. Two time World Fantasy Award-winning writer Danel Olson asks how, why, and where New York City novels capture the terror of the Al-Qaeda mass murders through a supernatural lens. This book explores ghostly presences from the world’s largest crime scene in novels by Don DeLillo, Jonathan Safran Foer, Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Griffin Hansbury, and Patrick McGrath—all of whom have been called writers of Gotham. Arguing how theories on trauma and the Gothic can combine to explain ghostly encounters civilian survivors experience in fiction, Olson shares what those eerie meetings express about grief, guilt, love, memory, sex, and suicidal urges. This book also explores why and how paths to recovery open for these ghost-visited survivors in the fiction of catastrophe from the early twenty-first century.
Danel Olson is professor at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas.
Appendix 1: Further Reading
Appendix 2: Interview at the Opening of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum with Director Alice M. Greenwald, 16 June 2014
This is a necessary book. The result of close reading, broad research and personal engagement, it revises our ideas of the relations between narrative and disaster, focussing on 9/11 but in ways that make it apposite to so many other aspects of troubled times. Well-written and vivid, it provides a complex picture of how writers and other people deal with the sudden appearance of trauma in our midst.
Danel Olson is one of the most incisive, intelligent and elegant of writers on the contemporary gothic. In his analysis of the fiction that appeared in the aftermath of 9/11, he shows both a profound sensitivity to the trauma of the event, and to the efforts of those writers most immediately affected by it to express that trauma. This is the definitive account of the gothic imagination in its collective response to an almost unimaginable real-life horror. A very fine piece of work, which will surely be of lasting importance to gothic scholars.