"I never set out to write an apocalyptic novel."
— Don DeLillo

Winner of the National Book Award, White Noise tells the story of Jack Gladney, his fourth wife, Babette, and four ultra­modern offspring as they navigate the rocky passages of family life to the background babble of brand-name consumerism. When an industrial accident unleashes an "airborne toxic event," a lethal black chemical cloud floats over their lives. The menacing cloud is a more urgent and visible version of the "white noise" engulfing the Gladneys-radio transmissions, sirens, microwaves, ultrasonic appliances, and TV murmurings-pulsing with life, yet suggesting something ominous. More info »

Buy a poster of the White Noise jacket art »
Designed by Michael Cho
White Noise
Introduction by Richard Powers

The Whiteness of the Noise

On a bright April morning thirty years ago, I stood on the balcony of my upper-story apartment in Somerville, Massachusetts, looking out on a plume full of ten thousand gallons of deadly phosphorus trichloride that rose hundreds of feet into the air, listening to the television spew a steady stream of dire speculation, and wondering whether to head in to work or call in sick. Five years later—just weeks after a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, released almost 100,000 pounds of methyl isocyanate into a densely populated area, killing many thousands of people—I picked up a just-published novel whose "airborne toxic event" triggered a broad spectrum of symptoms including heart palpitations and an intense feeling of déjà vu.

The publication of White Noise in 1985 placed Don DeLillo at the center of contemporary cultural imagination. I can think of few books written in my lifetime that have received such quick and wide acclaim while going on to exercise so deep an influence for decades thereafter. I can think of even fewer books more likely to remain essential guides to life in the Information Age, another quarter century on. As a result, like the book's "MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA," this relentlessly pored-over masterpiece of "American magic and dread" faces the risk of death by promotion to Classic. Yet even after twenty-five years, White Noise remains deeply disconcerting, prophetic, hilarious, volatile, enigmatic, and altogether resistant to containment or antidote. The world of Jack Gladney, his colleagues, and his family grows more estrangingly familiar, more recognizably alien with every subsequent cultural bewilderment. Read more »

Read the recent Los Angeles Times review of White Noise by Richard Rayners »
Read the New York Times review of White Noise by Jayne Anne Phillips »