If you see something, say something : the figure of the "other" in the 9/11 novel, and ; Translatie : een roman aan de Bijlmerramp
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One central question unites the critical and creative halves of this project: how
should fiction respond to a sudden crisis? Through this thesis, I was able to explore the
potential pitfalls authors need to avoid in tackling historic subject matter. This critical half
of this thesis examines the treatment of race in fiction depicting the September 11
attacks. The writers mentioned in this thesis—including Jonathan Safran-Foer, John
Updike, Jay McInerney, Don DeLillo—are considered to be left-of-centre thinkers.
However, their 9/11-related work aims to restore a classical notion of American
hegemony. Chapter I: An American Breed discusses the protagonists of these novels,
and how they represent ideas of upper class American whiteness. Chapter II: Fighting
the Need to be Normal is about the portrayal of terrorists and terrorist bodies. Chapter
III: You Want to Dance, I Want to Watch is about the treatment of African American
characters. The final chapter, Chapter IV: White Crayons is about lower class and
ethnically marked white characters.
The creative half of the thesis is Translatie, a novella. It is written from the
perspectives of two different characters, Jacob and Mia. Jacob is a 17-year-old
Surinamese rent boy who is being sexually abused by his upstairs neighbour. Mia is a
sex-show worker in her early 30s. The novel traces their lives in the week leading up to
the 1992 Bijlmer Air Disaster. After the disaster, they go missing, and their friends and
relatives are left to track them down.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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