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The Submission by Amy Waldman
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The Submission (2011)

by Amy Waldman

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Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
I feel like I was supposed to like this book, but I really did not care for it that much. I had to renew it the maximum five times from the library to finish it. Other books just seemed so much better, so it kept going to the bottom of the stack. I did finish it, though, after putting it aside many times. The premise was interesting, but I feel like it emphasized some of the less desirable characteristics of the characters. There was really only one character in the book that I really liked and although her actions were important to the plot, she was essentially a minor character. ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
This was interesting, but not very deep. It did end better than I expected, but was just an average book for the time it took to read. ( )
  suesbooks | Jul 21, 2015 |
Despite the glowing reviews, I probably wouldn't have chosen to read Amy Waldman's The Submission if it were not my book group's May selection. I feel as if I've read and watched enough stories exploring the trauma of the 9/11 attacks that all possible emotional and psychological territory has been covered.

Ms. Waldman hasn't found a new planet in the 9/11 universe, but her fictional story of the chaos following the selection of a memorial design to honor the victims is a thoughtful portrayal of the complex relations Muslim-Americans faced during the years following the attacks.

The novel opens with a jury of 13 choosing between two final designs for a memorial to be built on the site of the destroyed towers. A rule of the competition is that the designers remain anonymous until the winner is announced. The jury chooses "The Garden," and the chairman opens the envelope to read the name of the winning designer: Mohammed Khan. So begins a saga that will upend the lives of the enigmatic Mr. Khan, some members of the jury, families of the victims and assorted other characters.

The story is told primarily from the perspectives of the ambitious architect Mo Khan and the wealthy Claire Burwell, a 9/11 widow who has championed his design on the jury. These two seem to have more in common with each other than with anyone else in their lives, and the reader has the feeling that if they could just sit down for dinner together, they would form an impregnable alliance. But a conversation doesn't happen until too late, after events have forced both into entrenched positions.

If the novel asks a central question, it is probably "how can we learn to trust each other?" That's a crucial debate for any society.
( )
  Sharon.Flesher | Jul 13, 2015 |
I had to struggle through to the end, found the presentations of arguments repetitive. ( )
  annadanz | Jul 5, 2015 |
The plot, simply stated: in a design competition for a 9/11 memorial, the winner is a Muslim; controversy ensues.

After the first chapter or two, I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. The characters seemed a little too stock. But the complexities grew. The author is very good at developing the nuances of each competing side of the controversy that I was forced to wonder, "What decision would I make if I were on the competition's jury?" I thought I had my mind made up in the beginning; by the end I wasn't so sure.

The characters can sometimes be exasperating, but given the heat of the posited situation, I think that's the truth. (I have to admit that I never fully understood the mind of the designer at the center of the controversy, but he was a conflicted character--I'm not sure he fully understood himself, torn by the various forces around and within him.)

The author also has a way with words. Some of her passages were sterling. ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
While there is no shortage of American writers who bemoan all that has been done to their nation, by their nation, in the name of 9/11, there has been, until now, a dearth of American novels exploring that particular trajectory (there is a dearth of American novelists exploring what has been done to other nations by their nation, too, but that's another matter). There are, of course, various ideas about why this is so. One of them is this: how do you take the trauma and grief of 9/11 as the starting point of a novel and move on to a tale of suspended civil liberties and prejudice without the former entirely overshadowing the latter? Waldman takes hold of this potential stumbling block and turns it into the bedrock of her novel. The grief surrounding 9/11 – the forms it takes, the claims it makes, the claims made in its name by third parties, the hierarchy which surrounds it (not all griefs are equal), the guilt and anger which are born from it, the gulf between the silence of private grief and the clamour of public grief – is central to this exceptional debut about a changing America.
added by kidzdoc | editThe Guardian, Kamila Shamsie (Aug 27, 2011)
 
“The Submission” is set not in 2010 but in 2003, and concerns not a mosque but a 9/11 memorial. A jury, assembled by the state’s governor, has spent months reviewing architects’ anonymous submissions for a monument to be built on the site of the tragedy. Finally, a winner is selected: the design is called “The Garden” (in contrast with the other finalist, “The Void”), and its detractors can fault it only for being “too beautiful.” But once the choice is settled and a name attached to the blueprints, the jury discovers, to its alarm, that the architect is a Muslim named Mohammad Khan.

Elegantly written and tightly plotted, “The Submission” ultimately remains a novel about the unfolding of a dramatic situation — a historian’s novel — rather than a novel that explores the human condition with any profundity. And yet in these unnerving times, in which Waldman has seen facts take the shape of her fiction, a historian’s novel at once lucid, illuminating and entertaining is a necessary and valuable gift.
added by kidzdoc | editNew York Times, Claire Messud (Aug 21, 2011)
 
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Epigraph
Like the cypress tree, which holds its head high and is free within the confines of a garden, I, too, feel free in this world, and I am not bound by its attachments.
Dedication
To my parents, Don and Marilyn Waldman
First words
"The names," Claire said. "What about the names?"
Quotations
"Didn't you listen to her speech? She was saying terrorists shouldn't count more than people like her husband. But your questions - the suspicions they contain - make them count more. You assume we all must think like them unless we prove otherwise."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Ten years after the events of September 11, 2011, Claire Burwell a member on a jury that gathered to anonymously appoint the architect for a memorial, is confronted with public outrage when the media leaks that the winner is an American Muslim and is forced to face journalists, activists, and politicians while trying to find the best way to remember and understand the national tragedy.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374271569, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2011: Amy Waldman has performed a rare and dangerous feat in writing an airtight, multi-viewed, highly readable post-9/11 novel. When a Muslim architect wins a blind contest to design a Ground Zero Memorial, a city of eleven million people takes notice. Waldman, a former bureau chief for the New York Times, explores a diversity of viewpoints around this fictional event, bringing in politicians, businessmen, journalists, activists, and normal people whose lives--whether by happenstance, choice, or even due to their country of origin--get caught up in the controversy. Incredibly, she manages to keep all the balls in the air without ever fumbling. The story is moving and keeps the pages turning, but there are also bigger themes at work: of individuals versus groups; about the purpose of art, commerce, government, and journalism in society; of how people respond to grief and terror. The result is honest, compelling, and breathtaking.--Chris Schluep

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:07 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Selected for a jury that must choose an appropriate memorial for September 11 victims, Claire Harwell struggles to navigate a media firestorm when the winning designer is revealed as an enigmatic Muslim-American.

» see all 7 descriptions

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