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Art Inspired by 9/11: Background information when reading The Prize

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The Prize

by Jill Bialosky

The Prize by Jill Bialosky X
The Prize by Jill Bialosky
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2015, 325 pages
    Aug 2016, 325 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite
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About this Book

Art Inspired by 9/11

This article relates to The Prize

Print Review

The events of September 11, 2001 changed the world in many ways and naturally, that change has been reflected in the arts and humanities. In film, fiction, theatre and more, artists from across the globe have responded to the tragedy in many ways and on many levels.

"After 9/11," writes Jill Bialosky in her novel The Prize, "many artists questioned how they could make the same work they had made before." In the book, Agnes Murray and her husband Nate explore "the legacy of 9/11" in their work. Although they are fictional characters, in the real world, many continue to respond to 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror.

In film, United 93 (2006), charts the hijacking of a plane bound for San Francisco from Newark on the morning of September 11, 2001. Of the four planes hijacked, it is believed that this flight was intended to crash into the Capitol Building but passengers battled to regain control of the plane and it crashed in Pennsylvania. United 93 was made in cooperation with the families of the passengers and crew on the plane and attempts, as far as is possible, to be an accurate reconstruction of events. Taking a different approach altogether, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), the highest grossing documentary of all time, examines the career of President George W. Bush from his 2000 election victory, through his handling of the events of 9/11 and the subsequent war in Iraq. Moving away from the events of that day and into the aftermath, is the critically acclaimed The Hurt Locker (2008). Katherine Bigelow became the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director for this story of a bomb disposal team operating in Iraq.

In music, Bruce Springsteen returned to the recording studio after an absence of seven years and wrote a new album The Rising that includes songs such as "You're Missing" and "My City of Ruins," which has subsequently been used as an anthem of hope in the face of disaster, notably after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2006.

In theatre, David Hare's Stuff Happens (2004) examines the Iraq war with the same starting point as Fahrenheit 9/11, the election of George W. Bush in 2000. And Gregory Burke's play, Black Watch, brings to the foreground the global impact of 9/11, with the story of the famous Scottish regiment's turn of duty in Iraq in 2004.

The reflecting pools at the 9/11 Memorial in NYC In the visual arts, a sculpture by Eric Fischl caused controversy when it was displayed outside the Rockefeller Centre in September 2002. The bronze "Tumbling Woman" visually commemorates the people who jumped from the burning towers — images seen by many, as the day's events unfolded on television across the world. Fischl's work, much appreciated by the art world, proved upsetting to the general public. It was quickly covered and then removed.

The memorial to 9/11 is in the form of sculptural art with twin reflecting pools sitting in the footprints of the Twin Towers. Bronze panels that border the memorial are etched with the names of those killed in the 9-11 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Picture of reflecting pools at 9/11 Memorial by Amy Dreher. Courtesy of 9/11 Memorial

Article by Kate Braithwaite

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Prize. It originally ran in November 2015 and has been updated for the August 2016 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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