From the National Book Award–winning author of Underworld, a “daring…provocative…exquisite” (The Washington Post) novel about five people gathered together in a Manhattan apartment, in the midst of a catastrophic event.
It is Super Bowl Sunday in the year 2022. Five people, dinner, an apartment on the east side of Manhattan. The retired physics professor and her husband and her former student waiting for the couple who will join them from what becomes a dramatic flight from Paris. The conversation ranges from a survey telescope in North-central Chile to a favorite brand of bourbon to Einstein’s 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity.
Then something happens and the digital connections that have transformed our lives are severed.
What follows is a “brilliant and astonishing…masterpiece” (Chicago Tribune) about what makes us human. Don DeLillo completed this novel just weeks before the advent of the Covid pandemic. His language, the dazzle of his sentences offer a kind of solace in our bewildering world. “DeLillo’s shrewd, darkly comic observations about the extravagance and alienation of contemporary life can still slice like a scalpel” (Entertainment Weekly).
“In this wry and cutting meditation on collective loss, a rupture severs us, suddenly, from everything we’ve come to rely on. The Silence seems to absorb DeLillo’s entire body of work and sand it into stone or crystal.” —Rachel Kushner
DeLillo (Zero K) applies his mastery of dialogue to a spare, contemplative story of a group of New Yorkers and their response to a catastrophic shutdown of the world's computer systems on the night of the Super Bowl in 2022. While flying back to New York from vacation in Paris, Jim Kripps reads out the plane's altitude and speed from a screen while his poet wife, Tessa Berens, plumbs her memory for trivial facts and marvels at her ability to recover information without the assistance of a phone. Jim, an everyman whom the author describes as "nondescript," assumes the worst when the screens suddenly go blank. Their friend Max Stenner, who, with his professor wife, Diane Lucas, and her former student Martin Dekker, anticipate Jim and Tessa's arrival at their Manhattan apartment to watch the game, is deeply shaken when his own screen goes blank before halftime. Martin entertains Diane by reciting passages from Einstein's 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity, which lead to alternately profound and tepid discussions of the shutdown, the cause of which remains unexplained even after Tessa and Jim report to the group on surviving their crash landing and a ride through eerie, dark city streets. In the end, readers gain the timely insight that some were born ready for disaster while others remain unequipped. While the work stands out among DeLillo's short fiction, it feels underpowered when compared to his novels.