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Nuclear accidents and the radiation they release into the environment exceed human sensory perception and, ultimately, comprehension. Whereas sociological analyses of such catastrophes tend to emphasize the difficulties of risk management, writers of literary texts raise questions of meaning and narrative control. Spanning the period from 1987 to 2012, the disaster texts by Christa Wolf, Inka Parei, Yoko Tawada, and Elfriede Jelinek that are the focus of this essay explore the personal, political, linguistic, and historical complexities of such catastrophes. Expressing and acknowledging the helplessness of the subject, they offer narrative approaches to catastrophe beyond individual responses and responsibilities.