In the months after 9/11 David and Mel meet to drink, give each other comfort and reminisce about Paul—Mel’s husband and David’s best friend. The memories are not all good for David. Before Paul died in the north tower, the two friends fought, brutally questioning each other’s lives. Fueled by anger and grief and too much alcohol, David stumbles through the city while holding onto a silent promise made to a dead friend: he will wait for Mel to fall so he can catch her.
Beautifully raw and honest, Adam Berlin’s novel follows two characters through the long darkness in New York after 9/11. This is about the running, the drinking, the standing still, and the unquantifiable missing. Berlin’s book is shattering, real, first-person history, made intimate by a narrator forced to stare at himself against the hole of Ground Zero.
— James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces
The Number of Missing is a masterful re-invention of the post-war novel for the 21st Century. The World Trade Center is the battlefield: one young man dies a horrific death while his best friend witnesses the attack from a park bench a safe distance away. Ghosts haunt the guilty conscience, and to be alive is not necessarily to be among the living. The prose is lean and the air is thick. Adam Berlin might well be the Norman Mailer of his generation.
— Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of The Scenic Route
Praise For The Number of Missing
“This novel, through its language and layers, illuminates some of the truths of tragedy and the world response to it…Berlin has put his macho protagonist into the aftermath of real horror…through carefully crafted dialogue and expertly selected sensory details.”
— Robin Martin, Gently Read Literature
“The September 11th attacks were undoubtedly traumatizing for those who lived close enough to witness it, and even more so by those who lost a friend or loved one. Berlin’s The Number of Missing follows one such survivor, an artist’s model and Manhattan resident named David, as he navigates the nightlife of the city in the weeks and months following the attacks. Told through a somber inner monologue, we experience David’s recollection of the event itself along with memories of his deceased friend, juxtaposed with episodes from his current rudderless existence. He goes from modeling job to modeling job, while fighting his feelings for his friend’s widow and the anti-Arab resentment brewing within him. More than anything else though, we witness David drink his pain away…Though David’s dwindling demise is hard to sit through, this…feels truthful to the experience of someone so traumatized.”
— Publisher’s Weekly
“Berlin’s novel follows the story of two men, one of whom survived to endure the hellish aftermath of 9/11. The narrator David watches the plane hit the North Tower from a bench in Father Demo Square, aware that his friend Paul is on the 103rd floor. He runs toward the site not knowing his race has only begun. His loss represents that of so many in a city that yearned for its missing while lurching forward into the rest of life. Powerful.”
— New York Daily News
“A deeply moving chronicle of drinking, friendship, and grief. Paul was among the scores of Cantor Fitzgerald employees who died in the World Trade Center. In the months following the 9/11 attacks, his best friend, David, moves like a ghost between the bars of Manhattan, sometimes with and sometimes without Paul’s widow, Mel. Both are falling, but David is waiting for Mel to fall first, so that he can catch her.”
— Emily St. John Mandel, The Millions