We usually publish Celebrity Picks around the time that an author's latest book is coming out. But when the author of White Noise, The Names, Mao II, and Underworld sends in his favorite recent reads, it's difficult to wait. You want to share it with people.
Don DeLillo does have a book publishing in six weeks (October 20), so I will tell you about it. The book is The Silence, and it is vintage DeLillo. The novel is slim but powerful, set in 2022 when a world crisis has hit (all the computers are down)—and it was reportedly finished just before the pandemic started. The Silence is focused on science and technology, on our relationships to each other in a marred world, and on what is and isn't important when society starts to break down. The dialogue is stunning. The final page was a knockout. Again, it's short—more like a novella—but it will likely stick with you. And it is prescient to the world we are living in today. If you have been longing to read more DeLillo, it will be a reading highlight of your year. I'm still thinking about it, and I will go back and read it again soon.
Speaking of reading, here is what Don DeLillo recommends:
State of Grace by Joy Williams
I’ve just re-read State of Grace by Joy Williams. Published in 1986, this novel kept me turning pages at high speed from the very first sentence: "There is no warning of daylight here.” This is the American novel at its height of biblical longing.
Apeirogon by Colum McCann
Apeirogon, 2020, Colum McCann’s ambitious and compelling journey into the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. Strong work, and intriguing surprise on every page, the kind of current American novel that reminds us that fiction continues to renew itself.
The Recognitions by William Gaddis
Another instance of pleasurable re-reading. William Gaddis’ first novel, mid-1950s, The Recognitions, and I remember walking into a bookstore in Manhattan and being intrigued by the striking cover design, from a 15th century Italian altarpiece. The first paragraph knocked me out and I’ve been reading and re-reading Gaddis ever since.
The Index of Self-Destructive Acts by Christopher Beha
New novel, 2020, The Index of Self-Destructive Acts, ranging from politics to baseball to mortality and sexuality, and what else is there? Family life, and this is also there, a work that gains momentum as it sweeps along, with an eloquent final page.
Finally, the answer to the question many of us have wondered. What does Don DeLillo read?