Claire Harwell hasn't settled into grief; events haven't let her. Cool, eloquent, raising two fatherless children, Claire has emerged as the most visible of the widows who became a potent political force in the aftermath of the catastrophe. She longs for her husband, but she has found her mission: she sits on a jury charged with selecting a fitting memorial for the victims of the attack.
Of the thousands of anonymous submissions that she and her fellow jurors examine, one transfixes Claire: a garden on whose walls the names of the dead are inscribed. But when the winning envelope is opened, they find the designer is Mohammad Khan - Mo - an enigmatic Muslim-American who, it seems, feels no need to represent anyone's beliefs except his own. When the design and its creator are leaked, a media firestorm erupts, and Claire finds herself trying to balance principles against emotions amid escalating tensions about the place of Islam in America.
A remarkably bold and ambitious debut, The Submission is peopled with journalists, activists, mourners, and bureaucrats who struggle for advantage and fight for their ideals. In this deeply humane novel, the breadth of Amy Waldman's cast of characters is matched by her startling ability to conjure individual lives from their own points of view. A striking portrait of a city - and a country - fractured by old hatreds and new struggles, The Submission is a major novel by an important new talent.
Waldman has created something I really love when reading fiction - unreliable narrators. Several main characters - Claire Burwell, Mo Khan, and Sean Gallagher - dig their heels in, waver, reevaluate themselves and others, and cause rippling consequences.... [T]hrough her gifted prose and fully realized characters, [Waldman] has created a very powerful reading experience. (Reviewed by Jennifer Dawson Oakes).
The New York Times
Nervy and absorbing... A story that has more verisimilitude, more political resonance and way more heart than The Bonfire of the Vanities.
New York Times Book Review
Elegantly written and tightly plotted... a historian's novel at once lucid, illuminating and entertaining is a necessary and valuable gift.
The Washington Post
Moving... Eloquent... A coherent, timely and fascinating examination of a grieving America's relationship with itself.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Devastating... An excellent debut novel... The Submission is an exceedingly accomplished novel. The pacing, dialogue, characters and plot are absorbing from the start. Waldman populates her work with a dozen realistic characters.
Waldman's tale unfolds in fluid, accessible language, and the issues raised here will deeply engage readers.
Starred Review. The selection of a Muslim architect for a 9/11 memorial stirs a media circus in Waldman's poised and commanding debut novel.
Starred Review. ...Waldman addresses with a refreshing frankness thorny moral questions and ethical ironies without resorting to breathless hyperbole.
In her magnetizing first novel, replete with searing insights and exquisite metaphors, Waldman... maps shadowy psychological terrain and a vast social minefield as conflicted men and women confront life-and-death moral quandaries within the glare and din of a media carnival.
Richard Price, author of Freedomland and Lush Life
Amy Waldman's The Submission is a wrenching panoramic novel about the politics of grief in the wake of 9/11. From the aeries of municipal government and social power, to the wolf-pack cynicism of the press, to the everyday lives of the most invisible of illegal immigrants and all the families that were left behind, Waldman captures a wildly diverse city wrestling with itself in the face of a shared trauma like no other in its history.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by jane Well written but biased in her viewpoint in many subtle ways The book was well written but skewed to make Muslims and Islam the only real victims. There are subtle innuendos that seem biased against others, especially Christians, in that most were depicted as insensitive and unknowledgeable. I could not... Read More
Rated of 5
by avid Didn't feel real This was a well-written book that I want to give 5 stars to. Something about it just didn't work for me, though. I have a sense that the outrage over the selection of a Muslim to design a 9/11 memorial just would not play out the way it is... Read More
Rated of 5
by Diane S. The Submission by Amy Waldman I recently saw the movie The Help and just finished reading The Dry Grass of August and was feeling very relieved that the 50's and the KKK were over. Than I read this book and realized that fear and hatred is never over. It just changes focus. A... Read More
The search for the World Trade Center Memorial design, which is now being built where the Twin Towers once stood, began in 2003. While honoring those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, the memorial also pays tribute to the seven people killed and thousands injured in the WTC attack on February 26, 1993. Memorializing these 3,000+ people, the national monument incorporates the victims' names at the very center of its structure.
In total, 5,201 designs were received, and 62 countries were represented by the submissions. The selection committee - a jury of thirteen people - included architects (for example, Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, DC), artists, political representatives, curators, and Paula Grant Barry, a woman whose husband was killed in the attacks and who acted as a representative for victims' families. After some deliberation, they announced their...
Unafraid to show his traumatized characters' constant groping for emotional catharsis, Foer demonstrates once again that he is one of the few contemporary writers willing to risk sentimentalism in order to address great questions of truth, love and beauty.
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