In hunting for a novel that best exemplified life during the Bush years, Newsweek‘s Jennie Yabroff makes a not-bad choice with Jonathan Franzen‘s The Corrections; though the Franzen vs. Oprah = Obama vs. Bush argument is a bit of a stretch, the book is indeed a “warm social novel on an epic scale.” But I’m not wholly buying the assertion that, “Eventually someone will write a post-9/11 novel that successfully incorporates the attacks with the anxieties that were already simmering in our collective psyche in the summer of 2001.” I figured that’s what Ken Kalfus‘ A Disorder Peculiar to the Country accomplished, and he made it funny to boot.
Besides, I’m not convinced that the great post-9/11 novel needs to confront the matter head-on. A few other suggestions I would’ve tossed out, had I been in the story meeting:
Daniel Alarcon, Lost City Radio—As an allegory for the disconnect Americans felt from their government, Alarcon’s South American tragic fable captured the current mood of fear and anxiety.
Ward Just, Forgetfulness—An intimate profile of how terrorism hits close to home, and the frustrations in policing it.
Philip Roth, Exit Ghost—On top of precisely describing the feeling of profound disappointment in the wake of the ’04 election, it also neatly evoked the feeling of wanting to get the hell out of Dodge for a while.
Susan Choi, A Person of Interest—Without addressing post-9/11 terrorism directly, Choi’s dense novel gets at the identity crises that stem from terrorist provocations.
Paul Auster, Man in the Dark—for reasons already discussed
Others? I didn’t go hunting for post-9/11 novels, and I’m sure I missed plenty.