Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: the HORRORS of 9/11


“I give speeches around the country.  I tell how Stanley and I made our way out of the tower.  Life is precious, I tell them.  It can be gone in an instant.” 9/11 has been a part of the life of many.  This will never fade.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, an utterly engaging and a great heartbreaker by Jonathan Safran Foer shows the tragic, funny and intensely moving moments in the life of a nine-year-old Oskar who finds a mysterious key in a closet after his father died on 9/11. He’s certain about the key that belongs to his father. Babita Chakraborty finds the traces…


But which of New York’s 162 million locks does it open? And will it take him any closer or even further from his lost father?

Let us begin the quest that takes Oskar- inventor, letter-writer and amateur detective across New York’s five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of friends, relatives and complete strangers.

September 11 was a horrific day, not only for the people who were present over there but also to the world. I still recollect the moment of that day when I heard about the news and without missing a sec, I called my father who was supposed to be there on that day. It was such an overwhelming experience that could not be expressed as I heard his voice and he said that he was fine and he was 15-20 km away from the World Trade Centre where it actually happened. At that moment, I realized the worth of every single person in my life and how it feels to lose someone.


Pain | Artwork: Prapti Roy

The novel also delivers a narration by a nine-year-old, Oskar, who is trying to invent such impossible facts in order to cover up the grief of losing his father in the disaster of 9/11. The work also shows the bombing of Dresden where Oskar’s Grandparents had survived; a projection of the city of New York; the reminiscence of Hiroshima bombing, death and the horror of Nazi. It actually displays the trauma, pain and its effect on the Shakespearian nerdy intellect Oskar who claimed:


Everything that’s been born has died which means our lives are like skyscrapers. The smoke rises at different speeds, but they’re all on fire, and we’re all trapped.”

With such an intellectual, Oskar expresses his amazement on the theme of goodness over pain and suffering and how it would look like if dead people hop up and not be dead and September 11 would never have happened. It’s just a childlike wish and imagination which skips the cruel reality of the world.

Book Cover from Amazon

It also covers the wider area of the darkest stories of his grandparents, mother and others. Foer plays on the transformation of the harsh reality to the tragical and mythical and an emotional journey. The technicality of grandfather writing through journals, Oskar who has been following through the quotes of his hero Stephen Hawking; the theme of emptiness through the words and visuals; white blank pages; loss of someone and the void and a wish :

“We would have been safe.”

Before summing it up as Glamour stated that it is the most incredible fiction that a nine-year-old ever created with a funny, heart-rending portrayal of a child coping with disaster and it will have you biting back the tears.

Title Art: Ushnish Bagchi

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