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The Silence

2.74  ·  Rating details ·  6,694 ratings  ·  1,354 reviews
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 o
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published October 20th 2020 by Scribner
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Average rating 2.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,694 ratings  ·  1,354 reviews

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Oct 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: technology, language
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Don DeLillo has a special ability to find the pulse of modern anxieties in the moment and use it like a metronym to which his stories find their rhythm. The Silence is a genuine marvel of a novella that manages to perfectly encapsulate our growing existential anxieties in a data-driven society where just sheer recall of ‘a missing fact emerges without digital assistance’ is a rare satisfaction. Much will be made of the fac
Angela M
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Don DeLillo is still giving his readers something to think about in this short, yet powerful book. It’s ominous; even the cover is somewhat haunting - black background except for a slender cell phone and the print. It’s centered around what happens on a day in the future, on Super Bowl Sunday in 2022-pretty scary since this is a not too distant future date. It certainly made me think as a total black out occurs, as I read the book in digital format on my kindle, updated my reading status on Good ...more
Violet wells
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"This was the year he rode the subway to the ends of the city, two hundred miles of track. He liked to stand at the front of the first car, hands flat against the glass. The train smashed through the dark. People stood on local platforms staring nowhere, a look they'd been practicing for years. His body fluttered in the fastest stretches. They went so fast sometimes he thought they were on the edge of no-control. The noise was pitched to a level of pain he absorbed as a personal test. Another cr ...more
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Silence begins with the following epigraph from Albert Einstein:

“I do not know with what weapons
World War III will be fought,
but World War IV will be fought
with sticks and stones.”

Perhaps overused, even clichéd, it is all the more ominous for its inarguable truth. Though at the same time there is a micro-kernel of hope there, suggesting as it does that at least a couple of bands of tattered human beings will survive the third world war, the prelude to a kind of sine wave of human evolution a
Elyse  Walters
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Life can get so interesting, that we forget to be afraid”

“Cyber attacks, digital intrusions,, biological aggressions, smallpox, terrorism, financial collapse, dead, disabled, starvation, plague, and what else?”

Is the air getting warmer, hour by hour, minute by minute?

Isn’t it strange that some people seem to have accepted the burnout?
Is this something that they’ve always longed for?

Nobody wants to call it World War III…but it’s what it is.
“I do not know with what weapons World War III will
Sep 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-read, usa
This novella - written pre-Corona - deals with, yes, a shutdown, in this case a shutdown of technology. It's Super Bowl Tuesday 2022, the grid goes down and millions of viewers are suddenly staring into a black void. As the screens go dark, the five protagonists of DeLillo's text have to look at the world that surrounds them, and they see a reality that seems distorted when the mediating technology has vanished. Jim and his poet wife Tessa survive a crash landing and manage to get to their frien ...more
Nov 30, 2020 rated it liked it
"Ere the sockson locked at the dure."
- James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

"We were headed in this direction. No more wonder, no more curiosity. Totally impaired orientation. Too much of everything from too narrow a source code."
- Don DeLillo, The Silence


My father-in-law, 28 years ago, was the director of Information Warfare and Special Technical Operations Center (STOC), a part of the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. I remember, being a college student dating his daughter, talking to
Ron Charles
Oct 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: apocalyptic
The kindest response to Don DeLillo’s new novel, “The Silence,” may be suggested by its title. But this is the author of such modern classics as “White Noise,” “Libra” and “Underworld,” so attention must be paid.

“The Silence” is one of DeLillo’s short, curious novels, possibly the shortest and the curiousest. Harper’s recently published an excerpt, which may have tempted you to hope that something more substantial lies in the book itself. It does not.

The story takes place in 2022. In the opening
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Impressionistic and detached, with some nice sentences and scenes, but an unclear purpose and ending to it
Life can get so interesting that we forget to be afraid

Dependence on technology seems to be the main theme of The Silence. The book (I feel novel is a to generous term, the lettertype is quite big and it is only slightly above 100 pages) follows 5 people on the brink of the Superbowl 2022. A business class plane journey ends with a crash, and the screens of a couple who wait on the start of
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
The Fifth Most Overrated Thing in Life

Christopher Hitchens once wrote, "The four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex, and picnics."

To those, I will add Don DeLillo novellas.

This novella was unintentionally comical and absolutely weird: the equivalent of bathroom stall musings and scatological stream of consciousness by gnomic horndogs along with their black-turtlenecked conversations with pretentious New England teases.
Scott (on temporary hiatus)
"Nobody wants to call it World War III, but this is what it is." -- Martin, on page 79

Unremarkable novella, set in early 2022, that focuses on five connected people - one married couple returning home to New York City via a flight from Paris, and another married couple plus a weirdo graduate student 'friend' watching the annual Super Bowl in their Manhattan apartment - who are suddenly faced with an unexplained digital collapse or crash that renders all standard technology inoperable. (Maybe not
Emily B
Nov 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was my first Don DeLillo read and despite all the low rating reviews, I think it was a good place to start. I liked the style of writing and hope to read more of his work (specially as I have another book of his sitting on my shelf!)
Jul 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-stars, fiction
Had a couple of hours to myself tonight. Decided to sit down with my old friend Don. Poured a glass of bourbon to accompany. A good drink really does go hand in hand with his writing.

Anyway, the book. The book is good. Delillo has a lot to say in very few words. Nobody writes like him and his familiar prose is here to please yet again. The surreal atmosphere is back too. The handful of characters are all walking the balance beam between despair and acceptance. Process first, react later.

The idea
Lee Klein
Oct 21, 2020 rated it liked it
There's no All Quiet on the Western Front of the 1919 Spanish Flu Pandemic, right? And I doubt the current situation will yield more than evocative slivers like this, or Intimations, suggestive shards reflective of surely temporarily shattered "normalcy." The first thing about this, most likely DeLillo's last but who knows, is the font: maybe Courier New? It suggests the typewriter, the time before serifs became primarily sans curlicues and feet. Em dashes look like en dashes, without spaces on ...more
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
An interesting book about a pandemic of a different type that infects not humans, but the power grid. I’m a fan of Don DeLillo and his ideas are always weird and pensive and fascinating and this is no different.

First the book begins with a couple in a plane, before and after a crash landing into the new world without power or screens. DeLillo as always captures a new strange atmosphere and impending doom very adeptly and creepily.

The book also, very eerily, captures the feeling of being in a pan
Eric Anderson
When I was at university it felt like Don DeLillo was one of the most important contemporary writers that you should be reading if you wanted to be serious about literature. His novels “White Noise” and “Libra” were hailed as brilliant critiques of American society and “Underworld” was considered one of the finest recent works worthy of that canonical accolade 'Great American Novel'. I have no quibble with his lofty position in literature's firmament, but I will say that while I appreciate and e ...more
L.S. Popovich
This is a new DeLillo long short story in the guise of a novel. It had a few crystalline moments, but added up to a less satisfying whole than any of his other works. Make sure you read Underworld, White Noise and the seldom mentioned Angel Esmeralda before you try this one. DeLillo is still one of America's best living writers, but like the new Lethem book, this is a minor work, and also capitalizes on current societal anxieties. It's mostly dialogue, and describes a few disconnected themes and ...more
So, this says that the book was completed just before the advent of COVID-19. There’s an actual reference to COVID-19 in the book, which I assume was added later?

This is a challenging book. I think at some point, someone’s going to take issues with some of the reviews here, telling us that we just don’t get it. I don’t think that’s true. I think we get it…we just don’t love it?

It’s not really a story. It’s a philosophical musing on humanity, technology, the environment, and what humans find impo
Jan 04, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The world is everything, the individual nothing. Do we all understand that?

Barely the length of a decent novella, DeLillo’s latest seems to continue his literary experiment in developing a ‘voice’ that mimics JG Ballard’s famous ‘death of affect’. This translates into a stripped-down and deliberately muted style that equally flattens character and exposition. Pity the poor reader, for the end result seems crushingly dull, frustratingly opaque and alarmingly pretentious, all at the same time. Non

Mike had in the past expressed ambivalence about Don DeLillo's writing, but still he pre-ordered The Silence, DeLillo's 18th novel. $10.99 it cost, $11.72 with tax, although the money had no physical reality. Not like those U.S. dollars that became so unfamiliar- the rough texture, the peculiar green, the iconography, the obtrusiveness of shape in the wallet- after time spent in another country. Imagine a wallet jammed into a back pocket, the wallet itself crammed with receipts and other detritu
Stephen P(who no longer can participate due to illness)
In a claustrophobic room fetid with the air of disconnection it is difficult to find breath, our own breath. Power is turned off as now is our touch screen; access too our digital bible of identity. This lack has turned us into encapsulated beings bouncing off each other and bouncing off ourselves. Without the reflection of digitalized messaging, the deflections of television, there is no core if there has ever been one, and we are lost among others lostness. So we wait. Wait for electrical powe ...more
Oct 24, 2020 rated it did not like it
Pretentious, unreadable nonsense.
Kevin Kelsey
Oct 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2020
If there's one thing DeLillo always nails, it's our modern insecurities and anxieties, but the last few most recently published DeLillo novels all read like someone else trying to craft something DeLilloesque. This one is no exception.

I will still read everything he publishes, if only for his solipsistic character dialogue. Something about it is calming to me. It's like his characters exist in their own worlds, independent to one another. When they converse, they speak to imagined others in thei
Laura Rash
Oct 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
Wtf was that?
Ian "Marvin" Graye

The Virtual Crowd Deprived of Images

In contrast to "Mao II" and "Underworld", "The Silence" focuses on a different type of crowd, a television audience, a virtual crowd, in which five people (three men and two women) gather to watch (or expect to watch) images of Super Bowl LVI on television, from the comfort and privacy of the apartment home of one of the two couples.

Only, the game can't be screened, because some event (a power failure, a cyber-attack, a digital intrusion,
Jeff Jackson
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Some critics claim DeLillo is out of touch, but this compressed and hyper-stylized story feels straight-up oracular, cutting too close to the bone to offer any comfort. It's an elegy for the loss of culture as we watch the characters shrug off the last vestiges of historical memory. ...more
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: delillo
I found The Silence interesting, for what it does as much as for what it doesn't do.

It begins with a couple – Jim and Tessa – on their return flight to NYC, when all of technology appears to break down simultaneously, the digital grid that sustains us, entertains us, gone, dissolved. After their plane makes a perilous but successful landing, unaware of the extent of the blackout, they find their way to the Manhattan apartment of their friends, Max and Diane, for their appointed viewing of, of a
Oct 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I have never read anything by DeLillo, but now I'm intrigued.
I have learned in other reviews that this one is not up to his usual standard, so I'm curious to see how his good works read.

The atmosphere of complete passivity displayed in this novella managed to mesmerize me. We don't learn anything that happened we only see the reactions - or better non-reactions - of 5 characters trying to watch a match on TV when power goes off. It is layed bare how little those people are able to connect with e
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Every time I read something new from Don DeLillo, it is even shorter, and even more about death. I guess he's winding down. This novella about the end of the world through five people in Manhattan feels more like a play, lots of bizarre scenes and philosophizing in ways people only behave in literature.

I had a copy from the publisher in exchange for my aforementioned honest review.
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
While small in page count, this work is grand in ideology.
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Don DeLillo is an American author best known for his novels, which paint detailed portraits of American life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He currently lives outside of New York City.

Among the most influential American writers of the past decades, DeLillo has received, among author awards, a National Book Award (White Noise, 1985), a PEN/Faulkner Award (Mao II, 1991), and an American

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"Oh, we are living a dystopian reality!" You've heard it, you may have even said it. But despite what's happening in the world—or maybe because...
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“It was always at the edges of our perception. Power out, technology slipping away, one aspect, then another. We've seen it happening repeatedly, this country and elsewhere, storms and wildfires and evacuations, typhoons, drought, dense fog, foul air. Landslides, tsunamis, disappearing rivers, houses collapsing, entire buildings crumbling, skies blotted out by pollution. I'm sorry and I'll try to shut up. But remaining fresh in every memory, virus, plague, the march through airport terminals, the face masks, the city streets emptied out.” 0 likes
“look in the mirror and I don’t know who I’m looking at,” he said. “The face looking back at me doesn’t seem to be mine. But then again why should it? Is the mirror a truly reflective surface? And is this the face that other people see? Or is it something or someone that I invent? Does the medication I’m taking release this second self?” 0 likes
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