By Seija Rankin
July 16, 2020 at 12:00 PM EDT
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Simon and Schuster

Don DeLillo finished writing his latest novel just weeks before the coronavirus pandemic swept the world, and couldn't have known about the catastrophe and isolation that were about to be thrust upon us all. But The Silence, which will hit shelves Oct. 20, feels eerily prescient for these times.

The official synopsis: "It is Super Bowl Sunday in the year 2022. Five people, dinner, an apartment on the east side of Manhattan. The retired physics professor and her husband and her former student waiting for the couple who will join them from what becomes a dramatic flight from Paris. The conversation ranges from a survey telescope in North-central Chile to a favorite brand of bourbon to Einstein's 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity. Then something happens and the digital connections that have transformed our lives are severed. What follows is a dazzling and profoundly moving conversation about what makes us human."

While our current predicament is beyond the imagination of most, DeLillo — the author of 17 novels and a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, among others — seems a good candidate for a prediction above the rest. EW is exclusively revealing the cover for The Silence above, and a sneak peek at the text below.

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He decided to sleep for half an hour or until an attendant showed up with a snack before they landed. Tea and sweets. The plane began to bounce side to side. He knew that he was supposed to ignore this and that Tessa was supposed to shrug and say, Smooth ride up to now. The seatbelt sign flashed red. He tightened his seatbelt and looked at the screen while she went into a deeper crouch, her body nearly folding into her notebook. The bouncing became severe, altitude, air temperature, speed, he kept reading the screen but saying nothing. They were drowning in noise. A woman came staggering down the aisle, returning to the front row after a visit to the toilet, grabbing seatbacks for balance. Voices on the intercom, one of the pilots in French and then one of the attendants in English, and he thought that he might resume reading aloud from the screen but decided this would be a case of witless persistence in the midst of mental and physical distress. She was looking at him now, not writing just looking, and it occurred to him that he ought to move his seat to its upright position. She was already upright and she slid her food tray into the slot and put her notebook and pen in the seat pocket. A massive knocking somewhere below them. The screen went blank. Pilot speaking French, no English follow-up. Jim gripped the arms of his seat and then checked Tessa's seatbelt and retightened his. He imagined that every passenger was looking straight ahead into the six o'clock news, at home, on channel 4, waiting for word of their crashed airliner.

"Are we afraid?" she said.

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