Fantasies of flight and flights of fancy
Rewriting history and retreating from trauma in The Plot Against America
in Philip Roth
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The publication of The Plot Against America (2004) was attended with more fanfare and controversy than any of Philip Roth's books since Portnoy's Complaint (1969). Just as Portnoy had been heralded as the publishing event of 1969 long before its actual appearance, so The Plot Against America was trailed by a carefully orchestrated marketing campaign which exploited rumours that the novel's title alluded to the events of 9/11 and which included the dissemination of extracts from the book prior to its publication. In spite of Roth's own repeated denials that the book was intended as an oblique or symbolic commentary on George W. Bush's ‘war against terror’, many early reviewers read the novel as, and many readers bought the book anticipating, a political allegory. This chapter looks at The Plot Against America alongside Jonathan Safran Foer's novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005) as studies of the relationship between history and fiction, trauma and imagination. So many reviewers couched their critiques in terms of the realism, or otherwise, of Roth's and Foer's novels.

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