Falling Man (novel)
Cover to the first edition
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|Pages||256 (Hardback first edition)|
|LC Classification||PS3554.E4425 F36 2007|
Falling Man concerns a survivor of the 9/11 attacks and the effect his experiences on that day has on his life thereafter. As the novel opens, Keith Neudecker, a 39-year-old lawyer who works in the World Trade Center, escapes from the building injured slightly and walks to the apartment he previously shared with his son Justin and estranged wife Lianne. After a period of convalescence recuperating from the physical and mental trauma experienced in the attack, Keith resumes his domestic routine with Lianne while at the same time broaching a romantic relationship with a woman named Florence, another survivor, whose briefcase Keith absently took with him from a stairwell upon exiting the tower. Lianne meanwhile grows frustrated with a neighbor in her building who loudly plays middle-eastern sounding music, witnesses the dissolution of a writing group she ran for Alzheimer's patients, and spends time with her elderly intellectual mother Nina and her boyfriend Martin (an art dealer who was involved in Kommune 1 in Germany during the 1970s). In the second half of the novel, Keith eventually abdicates his partially resumed domestic life and begins touring the world playing in professional poker tournaments full-time, recalling his weekly poker nights with co-workers, one of whose deaths he witnessed on 9/11.
Throughout the book, Lianne sees a performance artist dubbed "Falling Man" in various parts of the city. Wearing business attire, he suspends himself upside-down with rope and a harness in the pose of the man in the famous photograph of the same name by Richard Drew.
Themes and criticism
Like DeLillo's previous works, this novel is thematically concerned with the symbolic nature of terrorist violence portrayed through the mass media. In addition, Delillo's narrative examines the possibilities of reinventing individual identity as well as the tendency of individuals to construct their identities through a group mentality.
The book was received to wide critical praise and many consider it, apart from his magnum opus Underworld, DeLillo's finest novel. However, Michiko Kakutani writing for the New York Times considered it a disappointment, saying that although "flashes of Mr. DeLillo’s extraordinary gifts for language can be found in his depiction of the surreal events Keith witnessed on 9/11 . . . the remainder of the novel feels tired and brittle."
- Kakutani, Michiko (2007-05-09). "A Man, A Woman, and a Day of Terror". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
- Excerpt, from The New Yorker, April 2007
- New York Times review by Michiko Kakutani
- New York Review of Books review by Andrew O'Hagan
- The Observer review by Adam Mars-Jones
- Salon review by Laura Miller
- Entertainment Weekly review by Jennifer Reese