Extremely loud and incredibly close. Postmodern tragedy.

It could be argued that the terms “postmodernism” and “tragedy” lie uneasily beside each other. We live in scary times when terrorist attacks, man-made disasters and revolutions occur one after another, and governments are actively allowing their citizens to be harmed & killed. It is more important now than ever to remind ourselves what really matters, and the best way to do it is through art, especially if that art is based on real events.

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote his second novel ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ in 2005 when he was only twenty-eight years old. It was 4 years after the terrible tragedy that occurred on September 11th, 2001 in New York.

One thing that is very important to state in the beginning of this post is that Foer’s personal emotional trauma was the driving force that made him write the novel as writing has always been a way for authors to cope with tragedy. Moreover, he once claimed that he, as a New Yorker, found it impossible to not write about it as he felt it was his patriotic duty.

The original book cover

In the novel, Oskar Schell is a nine-year-old boy whose father Thomas died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center building on September 11, 2001. Oskar is an extremely emotional and smart for his age child. After his father’s death, the kid starts to struggle with insomnia, depression, and, most importantly, his fears and phobias. The rest of the novel is focused on Oskar’s relationship with his family and his search for the mysterious key, which he believed would help him find a mention of his father.

Why is it so important to write about misfortune and what was the main purpose of Foer writing the novel? The World Trade Center attack was probably the most terrifying national catastrophe for our generation. It isn’t fiction but something that has actually happened in the world. Hundreds of families lost their beloved ones that day.

Through his novel, Jonathan Safran Foer is showing that any loss of life is a tragedy, and it always leads to human suffering. There is always a child crying over his parent’s death.

That is the reason why the author emphasizes the feelings of little Oskar so expressively. He is also trying to show that it can happen to anyone at any time, so it’s never a bad idea to let people know how much you love and appreciate them.

The book affected critics and readers enough to soon be adapted into a film directed by Stephen Daldry, starred with Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. That is where one type of media turned into another, attracting a greater audience and touching people’s hearts more. To anyone who hasn’t   read the book/watched the movie   yet,  I strongly suggest you do.

It touched my heart and it will touch yours too, I promise.


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