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The Submission
by Amy Waldman


Overview -

Entertainment Weekly 's Favorite Novel of 2011

Esquire 's 2011 Book of the Year
A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book for 2011
One of NPR's 10 Best Novels of 2011

Ten years after 9/11, a dazzling, kaleidoscopic novel reimagines its aftermath

A jury gathers in Manhattan to select a memorial for the victims of a devastating terrorist attack.  Read more...


 
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More About The Submission by Amy Waldman
 
 
 
Overview

Entertainment Weekly's Favorite Novel of 2011

Esquire's 2011 Book of the Year
A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book for 2011
One of NPR's 10 Best Novels of 2011

Ten years after 9/11, a dazzling, kaleidoscopic novel reimagines its aftermath

A jury gathers in Manhattan to select a memorial for the victims of a devastating terrorist attack. Their fraught deliberations complete, the jurors open the envelope containing the anonymous winner's name--and discover he is an American Muslim. Instantly they are cast into roiling debate about the claims of grief, the ambiguities of art, and the meaning of Islam. Their conflicted response is only a preamble to the country's.

The memorial's designer is an enigmatic, ambitious architect named Mohammad Khan. His fiercest defender on the jury is its sole widow, the self-possessed and mediagenic Claire Burwell. But when the news of his selection leaks to the press, she finds herself under pressure from outraged family members and in collision with hungry journalists, wary activists, opportunistic politicians, fellow jurors, and Khan himself--as unknowable as he is gifted. In the fight for both advantage and their ideals, all will bring the emotional weight of their own histories to bear on the urgent question of how to remember, and understand, a national tragedy.

In this deeply humane novel, the breadth of Amy Waldman's cast of characters is matched by her startling ability to conjure their perspectives. A striking portrait of a fractured city striving to make itself whole, The Submission is a piercing and resonant novel by an important new talent.



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Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780374271565
  • ISBN-10: 0374271569
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
  • Publish Date: August 2011
  • Page Count: 299
  • Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.24 x 1.16 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.17 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary

 
BookPage Reviews

Thoughtful debut rooted in fact

Only a few months ago, our country was immersed in an intense debate over the “Ground Zero” mosque. In her first novel, The Submission, former New York Times reporter Amy Waldman offers a fictional account of a similar controversy that’s noteworthy for its complex characters, moral seriousness and willingness to raise soul-searching questions Americans will be forced to answer with ever-increasing urgency.

Two years after 9/11, a jury of 13 prominent New Yorkers meets to select the winner of a contest to design a memorial at the site of the World Trade Center. To the dismay of many, the winner, picked from an anonymous field of entrants, turns out to be a Muslim, a partner in a successful New York City architectural firm. Virginia-born Mohammed “Mo” Khan, whose connection to his faith is tenuous at best, reluctantly finds himself at ground zero of the controversy that surrounds the choice of his design, known as “the Garden.” When the Times architectural critic highlights its similarity to a traditional Islamic garden, the smoldering public opposition bursts into a full-blown blaze.

What is most rewarding about Waldman’s novel is her deftness in shunning stereotypes, offering an array of characters both appealing and frustrating in all their human complexity. She skillfully manages multiple points of view to tell the story, among them Claire Burwell, jury member and widow of a wealthy investment banker killed on 9/11; Sean Gallagher, the brother of a firefighter victim, who becomes an angry spokesman for survivor families; and Asma Anwar, a Bangladeshi immigrant, widowed herself on that terrible day, whose dignified appearance at a climactic public hearing provides the story’s moral anchor. These characters and others are buffeted by the emotions, some genuine and others stoked by the media and special interest groups pursuing their own agendas, that swirl around the memorial.

Despite the evident parallels between Waldman’s story and the mosque debate, its perspective is both fresh and vivid. Manifesting a confidence that thoughtful fiction can prove more illuminating than fact, she’s produced a novel whose questions will resonate long after the controversy of the moment has played itself out.

 
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