“Because There Is Something About You, in the Way You Hold a Space”

Don DeLillo’s New York in “Cosmopolis” and “Falling Man”


  • Alsahira Alkhayer




American Studies, Don DeLillo, 9/11, cosmopolitanism, globalization, urban theory


New York City space puts forward multifold arrays of reflection on the state of the contemporary human self, in particular, of human beings in their interaction with an avantgarde, pompous, profit-oriented, world-reaching, rapid, and ephemeral space. Two post 9/11 Don DeLillo novels: Cosmopolis (2003) and Falling Man (2007) meticulously exhibit the spatial and temporal impact on urban environment and its inhabitants. The present paper scans New York’s urban space in these two novels, categorizing it into exteriors that encompass Manhattan’s streets and squares, and interiors that encompass hair salons, a ruined private flat and the destroyed Twin Towers. These spaces are scrutinized through an interdisciplinary approach that combines fiction with urban and social theory using views of Marshal Berman, Kwame Appiah, Gaston Bachelard, Michel Foucault among others. Revealing cultural divides in public spaces and a dual reality in confined spaces, the close analysis outlines aspects of DeLillo’s early 21st-century New York in which space is not detached from time in shaping an estranged self. The analysis, further, suggests that the accepted break in the flow of creativity and everyday life in the world city before and after 9/11, is, on the contrary, a continuous stream of trauma and a repeated pattern of destruction and creation.


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