Versluys, who is the author of Out of the Blue: September 11 and the Novel , and is also Belgian commented on what special challenges, if any, his nationality or non-Americanness posed in writing the book and teaching a class on the subject at Columbia University. Versluys writes of a class he taught in 2008, “Implicitly [the students] were questioning my right to talk about an event that belonged to them in a way it did not belong to me. I have never taught a more difficult course. I have never profited more from a course taught at Columbia either.”
Versluys also addressed how academics struggle with dealing with such events in their writing:
Is academic parlance at all (no matter how purged from the worst excesses of jargon-mongering and obfuscation) capable of saying something meaningful about pain? Necessarily—given the nature of the task I imposed upon myself—I deal with 9/11 as a semiotic event—something that takes place in language, a form of discourse.
Yet during the four years I worked on the book, I kept telling myself: the towers really did come down; people really died; to this very day, husbands and wives, parents and children have to live with an irreparable loss. I can only hope that, in spite of physical, mental and intellectual distance, somehow my study resonates with this attempt to see trauma in its full human dimensions.