Fiction and Testimony in Don DeLillo's Falling Man

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The noun ‘testimony’ has a very strong relationship with truth. As a mode of evidentiary discourse, it is more closely associated with law and church than with the creative field. However, artists too may bear witness, or testify, to public events. One such artist, I suggest, is Don DeLillo, who gives an account of the 11 September 2001 disaster in New York and its aftermath in Falling Man: A Novel (2007). Though it is fiction, as signalled so clearly in the title of the novel, it can be argued that it offers testimony to at least some aspects of the disaster and its aftermath. But can a work of the imagination also be the statement of a witness, an account of something that is true? Drawing on insights from the writings of Jacques Derrida on ‘truth’ and Michel Foucault on the experience-book, and through a close reading of DeLillo's novel, I argue that fiction has the capacity to offer an account of an event that works in a way similar to that of testimony.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages15
JournalLife Writing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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