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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 58 (next | show all)
Let me put it this way: I bought this because a meeting I had was set back an hour and a half and I didn't have a book with me. I read it not exactly not stop afterward even though I had a library book that is nearly due I wanted to finish as well as something for book group. I really loved the vast majority of it although in the very end I found at least one character behaving, well, out of character at a pretty key point. I didn't need her to be perfect, I just needed her to be consistent. So, the ending wasn't awful but I minded the change. If I could I'd give the book 4.5 stars, but I still enjoyed it. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
Let me put it this way: I bought this because a meeting I had was set back an hour and a half and I didn't have a book with me. I read it not exactly not stop afterward even though I had a library book that is nearly due I wanted to finish as well as something for book group. I really loved the vast majority of it although in the very end I found at least one character behaving, well, out of character at a pretty key point. I didn't need her to be perfect, I just needed her to be consistent. So, the ending wasn't awful but I minded the change. If I could I'd give the book 4.5 stars, but I still enjoyed it. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
Let me put it this way: I bought this because a meeting I had was set back an hour and a half and I didn't have a book with me. I read it not exactly not stop afterward even though I had a library book that is nearly due I wanted to finish as well as something for book group. I really loved the vast majority of it although in the very end I found at least one character behaving, well, out of character at a pretty key point. I didn't need her to be perfect, I just needed her to be consistent. So, the ending wasn't awful but I minded the change. If I could I'd give the book 4.5 stars, but I still enjoyed it. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
When the winner of a competition to design a memorial for the 9/11 victims is revealed to be a Muslim, controversy erupts. The first thought of some on the panel who chose the winner from anonymously submitted designs is to ignore the choice and choose the runner-up. However, when it is leaked to the press that the winner was a Muslim that option becomes politically unviable. It is decided to hold a public hearing to determine if either the design or the architect is "unsuitable" in some way. The design is that of a garden, and some of the opponents of the design claim that it is in fact the garden of paradise of Islamic myth, and that rather than being a tribute to the victims of 9/11 it is intended as a place of repose for the terrorists.

The novel is told from several points of view: Claire, the widow of a 9/11 victim was on the panel which chose the design, and initially supports the design despite the ethnicity of its architect. Mohammad Kahn, the architect, is a thoroughly Americanized Muslim. However, he refuses to answer questions about either his religion or intent in making the design, taking the position that the design must speak for itself. Other pov characters are the head of the panel that chose the design, the brother of a firefighter who died in the towers who resents not having been chosen to be the "victims' families representative" on the panel, a rabid anti-Islamist protestor, the journalist who broke the story about the winner being a Muslim, and finally, Asma, the widow of a victim who was an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh.

This is a novel of ideas, but never loses sight of the fact that it is a novel, and never becomes boring. Themes of Islam, grief, and art are explored.

3 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jan 22, 2016 |
I'd give it 3.5 stars if there were half stars. As many of the other reviews note, there isn't much plot, but it kept my interest throughout. On my paperback version, one of the reviews referred to it as better than Bonfire of the Vanities (which I understand but don't agree with). A little too heavy at times, but good. My favorite part of the book was the various interpretations of the title and the degree to which many of characters submitted (or didn't). Amazing that the book was written well in advance of Park51 community center episode. ( )
  Charlie-Ravioli | Jan 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (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."
Last words
(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.
Haiku summary

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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