Cultural Perspectives on Familial Belonging
New York Families in Post-9/11 Novels: Writing the City in Masha Hamilton’s 31 Hours
New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous. But there is one thing about it – once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough (John Steinbeck, 1953).
The concept of family is highly exploited in post-9/11 fiction, as reflecting the impact of the attacks on the smallest social unit can serve to domesticate it, thereby making it more accessible. This attempt to approach the unfamiliar and ungraspable through familiar structures inscribes itself into the notion of a “counter narrative” in the DeLillian sense; it aims to bring the global narrative back home, taking it away from the terrorists who tried to seize it on 9/11 (DeLillo, “In the Ruins of the Future”). This paper connects the city of New York with the broad concept of family in order to trace the importance of the latter in the context of post-9/11 novels. Since, as I claim, the post-9/11 novel is preeminently a city novel, and since cities provide especially well-suited literary settings for novels, and equally, the novel is the genre which best accommodates the metropolis1, studying families based in New York City in the context of post-9/11 novels seems a relevant starting point for research. Strongly linked to the concept of family is the notion of home, which post-9/11 novels reflect as highly problematic and...
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