The best books on the aftermath of 9/11 on people’s everyday lives

Rohit Prasad Author Of The Pilgrim: Inferno Redux
By Rohit Prasad

Who am I?

I have lived in the US, and particularly lived and worked in New York, for many years. How the events of 9/11 changed the city, its people, and the perceptions of the people all around the country and the world has always intrigued me. 9/11 has put up a prism through which experiences have emanated out in a kaleidoscopic range of stories. A banker by day and a cynical blogger by night, I have traveled the world and have met many interesting people with compelling backgrounds and have experienced many peculiar and beautiful things. I love to explore the confluence of fascinating narrative arcs and life-altering events. 

I wrote...

The Pilgrim: Inferno Redux

By Rohit Prasad,

Book cover of The Pilgrim: Inferno Redux

What is my book about?

Roy Aron goes on a journey, physically and mentally, on the fateful day of 9/11. He descends the bowels of hell, following in the footsteps of Dante Alighieri, as he witnesses the nine sins. He comes upon intriguing sagas showcasing the sins’ corroding powers. The reader accompanies him through the heart of darkness, lives through the transformational incidents, and emerges in the sunshine of hope.

Nine engrossing tales spanning multiple cities, persons, and ages, are woven beautifully together with a common thread, linked to a literary classic, in a fascinating approach. The sins, as well as human character’s redeeming traits, are to be found every day all around us. The narrative fluidly moves between the narrator's own musings and the stories taking the reader along for a rollercoaster ride.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Why this book?

The book captures the picture-perfect life of a brown-skinned immigrant who finds it all rose-tinted living it up in New York.

The scales fall after 9/11 when faced with shifting allegiances and overt suspicions. The author slowly builds up a gnawing tension as we wait for the protagonist to teeter over the edge, as the isolation and resentment eats away inside him spiraling into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The book touched me as a person of South Asian descent, having faced unconscious bias. The book delineates the perspective of “the other”, where the unfamiliar is made to feel like a convenient scapegoat in times of crisis.

However, there is more that unites us than divides us - and we can try to change the world one person at a time.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

By Mohsin Hamid,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Reluctant Fundamentalist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The elegant and compelling novel about a Pakistani man’s abandonment of his high-flying life in New York—an extraordinary portrait of a divided and yet ultimately indivisible world in America post-9/11.

At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. He begins to tell the story of a man named Changez, who is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by an elite valuation firm. He…

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Book cover of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Why this book?

A precocious and inquisitive child Oskar goes on a treasure hunt around New York to solve a mystery left behind by his father who had died on 9/11.

In his quest, you see a child seeking to stay close to his father a little while longer. In his streams of consciousness and hyperactive imagination, you feel him trying to fill the void left behind by a supportive father figure.

With the sheer weight of his innocence, he gets strangers to open up to him, let him into their lives, and add to their life stories. In a moving manner, the narrative follows the path that Oskar, his mother and his grandfather take in dealing with trauma and finding closure in their own personal ways.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



From the critically acclaimed author of Here I Am, Everything is Illuminated and We are the Weather - a heartrending and unforgettable novel set in the aftermath of the 9/11

'Utterly engaging, hugely involving, tragic, funny and intensely moving... A heartbreaker' Spectator

'The most incredible fictional nine-year-old ever created... a funny, heart-rending portrayal of a child coping with disaster. It will have you biting back the tears' Glamour

'Pulsates with dazzling ideas' Times Literary Supplement

'It's a miracle... So impeccably imagined, so courageously executed, so everlastingly moving' Baltimore Sun…

The Submission

By Amy Waldman,

Book cover of The Submission

Why this book?

An American Muslim is chosen blindly by a jury to design a memorial to the 9/11 victims, opening it up to vociferous debates and dissensions, much like the Ground Zero Mosque controversy.

The author uses her vast experience as a New York Times journalist to eloquently describe the warps and wefts of the fabric of New York society, and starts tugging at several threads as it all unravels. The players’ tug-of-war is well portrayed in rich texture, while the politicians’ intent on not letting a good crisis go to waste adds satirical color to the expansive tapestry.

As a creator, one feels that art has no religion and has no boundaries. The axiom is severely tested in the face of rabid nationalism, parochial intolerance, and a media free-for-all.

The Submission

By Amy Waldman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Submission as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A jury gathers in Manhattan to select a memorial for the victims of a devastating terrorist attack. Their fraught deliberations complete, the jurors open the envelope containing the anonymous winner's name - and discover he is an American Muslim. Instantly they are cast into roiling debate about the claims of grief, the ambiguities of art, and the meaning of Islam.

The memorial's designer is Mohammad Khan, an enigmatic, ambitious architect. His fiercest defender on the jury is its sole widow, the mediagenic Claire Burwell. But when the news of his selection leaks to the press, Claire finds herself under pressure…

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story

By Nora Raleigh Baskin,

Book cover of Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story

Why this book?

Although the book falls under the Juvenile Literature section, it is equally suitable for adults for its poignant handling of how four children’s lives were immutably changed by 9/11. 

The portrayal of the middle-schoolers basking in the glory of their ‘wonder years’ in the hours leading up to the terrible day is fleshed out beautifully. The calamitous events mark the end of innocence for them. What they, and the reader, get coming out of it are learnings about bravery, community, belonging, destiny, faith, and tolerance.

Their diverse threads intersect in the end as they come together as apprehensive, but proud, Americans marking the end of an era and hoping for a more perfect union.

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story

By Nora Raleigh Baskin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Nine, Ten as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author of Anything But Typical comes a "tense...and thought-provoking" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers.

Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day-until a plane struck the World Trade Center.

But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he…

Book cover of The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland

Why this book?

This is the sole non-fiction recommendation on the list. However, with its message of hope and optimism, it seems like a fairy tale in these days of partisanship and hatred.

The book details how the small city of Gander in Canada rallied around to provide safe haven to the passengers of 38 airplanes which had been bound for the US on 9/11. The stranded travelers are greeted by a welcoming community, build lifelong friendships, and find solace and peace in a time of grave uncertainty.

The description of the small acts of kindness which positively impacted the lives of strangers and fostered a feeling of worldly brotherhood is heartwarming and uplifting. It also showcases how the world came together for America in its hour of need.

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland

By Jim DeFede,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Day the World Came to Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The True Story Behind the Events on 9/11 that Inspired Broadway's Smash Hit Musical Come from Away, Featuring All New Material from the Author

When 38 jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Canada by the closing of U.S. airspace on September 11, the population of this small town on Newfoundland Island swelled from 10,300 to nearly 17,000. The citizens of Gander met the stranded passengers with an overwhelming display of friendship and goodwill.

As the passengers stepped from the airplanes, exhausted, hungry and distraught after being held on board for nearly…

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