Don Delillo, American novelist, playwright and recent recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, was born on November 20th 79 years ago. Since his first novel Americana, published in 1971, he has written a number of bestselling and award winning novels and plays that have earned him a place in literary history. Addressing a wide range of subjects, including sports, history, and American anxiety, his stories are dark, mysterious and unsettling. Most prominently his readers recognise the themes of paranoia and fear reoccurring throughout his work as well as theoretical decryption of American society.
One of his most recognisable and critically acclaimed novels Underworld, a New York Times bestseller and finalist for the National Book Award, is as intriguing as it is heavy (the weight of around 830 pages, to be more specific). Based during and after the cold war, Underworld is an interweaving of narratives that ambitiously tries to capture the mentality of America under threat and the clash of culture and war. Filled with philosophical and ethical questions, the novel contemplates how global events can alter our lives and to what extent.
Delillo's style is an acquired taste - sometimes confusing and turbid - but after translation there is a lot to be found. Incorporating elements of modernism and post modernism, Delillo's work tests the limits of language and explores realism without the need of offering comfort to the reader. In 2016 we await the release of his new novel Zero K and look forward to what this great writer will offer us next.