Monday, 3 October 2022

DeLillo, Don "The Silence"

DeLillo, Don "The Silence" - 2020

We read this in our international online book club in September 2022.

I like dystopian novels and when our book club chose this one by an author I haven't read, I was looking forward to it. I'm not a huge fan of short stories but sometimes they turn out well.

This one didn't. There wasn't enough information about what was going on and certainly none about what happened after. Granted, we don't know, yet, what might happen if this ever was the case.

The world is losing its technology including all the internet. It would have been nice to see what happens to the world rather than listening to some weird, unexplainable eruptions by some of the characters.

The best part of the book is the quote in the prequel by Albert Einstein (which I knew already and totally agree with):
"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

After that introduction, I would have wished that this would be shown at least a little.

Comments from another member:" I have been holding off on writing something, because I found it all so confusing. So I will say just that I found the book confusing and not at all what I was expecting. It was more like a piece of art or theatre-manuscript for some monologue than a novel. But if you look away from my expectations the story did highlight what a catastrophic event would be like from the perspective of very few people. There were the people who weirdly survived the planecrash and went on as if nothing had happened, then there was the guy who kept staring at the TV, a conspiracy theorist, the hostess. But not much about what happened in the outside world except for a few words on it not being good. Again something new to widen my reading experiences, but very confusing."

And another one: "I completely agree. It reads like a confused stream of consciousness exercise that no one was meant to really understand. Maybe it was meant to evoke some sort of feeling similar to Sartre's 'La Nausée' only this novel only evoked a sense of absurdity."

And I totally could relate to this one: "If I ever experience a catastrophic event I sincerely hope the folks I am with have more wits than the very dull characters in this book. A short but tedious book."

Book Description:

"From one of the most dazzling and essential voices in American fiction, a timely and compelling novel set in the near future about five people gathered together in a Manhattan apartment, in the midst of a catastrophic event.

Don DeLillo completed this novel just weeks before the advent of Covid-19.
The Silence is the story of a different catastrophic event. Its resonances offer a mysterious solace.

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 dazzling and profoundly moving conversation about what makes us human. Never has the art of fiction been such an immediate guide to our navigation of a bewildering world. Never have DeLillo’s prescience, imagination, and language been more illuminating and essential.


  1. Sorry this one didn't turn out as well as you hoped.

    1. Actually, Lark, I wasn't really surprised. We have read a few sci-fi books that I really disliked and the members know that, so a dystopian novel was suggested instead. I read quite a few that I really liked but this one was not very deep.