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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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 wolfpack 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. -
With a keen and expert eye of an excellent journalist, Waldman provides telling portraits of all the drama's major players, deftly exposing their foibles and mutual; manipulations. And she has a sense of humour: the novel is punctuated with darkly comic details...[It] would seem richly satirical were it not for the fact that it so closely reflects reality. From this fertile material Waldman fashions her compelling ensemble piece...Elegantly written and tightly plotted...In these unnerving times in which Waldman has seen facts take the shape of her fiction, [this] novel, at once lucid, illuminating and entertaining is a necessary gift. - New York Times Book Review
There's nothing meek about Amy Waldman's high-powered debut...The Submission is a searching, cerebral novel with the pitch and pace of a thriller...It's as driven as its ambitious protagonists. Amy Waldman is an experienced journalist, and her biting sketches of cynical hacks and scripted shock-jocks ring true, as she scrutinises the link between art works and their creators. Acute and exhilarating. - Daily Mail
An absorbing, accomplished debut...Waldman [has a] feel for novelistic light and shade and an instinct for chasing down telling, surprising details...Waldman's sensitivity to the multidimensionality of the issues is matched by an observant eye for the details of social interaction...This knack for shaping scenes, along with judicious intercutting between various elements, make Waldman's novel an intelligent, satisfying read - Sunday Times
Amy Waldman writes like a possessed angel. She also has the emotional smarts to write a story about Islam in America that fearlessly lasers through all our hallucinatory politics with elegant concision. This is no dull and worthy saga; it's a literary breakthrough that reads fast and breaks your heart. -
In her magnetizing first novel, replete with searing insights andexquisite metaphors, Waldman, formerly a New York Times reporter and co-chief of the South Asia bureau, 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. Waldman brilliantlydelineates the legacy of 9/11; the confluence of art, religion, and politics; the plexus between the individual and the group; and the glory of transcendent empathy in The Bonfire of the Vanities for ourtime. - Booklist, starred review
Waldman imagines a toxic brew of bigotry in conflict with idealism in this frighteningly plausible and tightly wound account of what might happen if a Muslim architect had won a contest to design a memorial at the World Trade Center site...Waldman keenly focuses on political and social variables...As misguided outrage flows from all corners, Waldman addresses with a refreshing frankness thorny moral questions and ethical ironies without resorting to breathless hyperbole. - Publisher’s Weekly, starred review
[A] poised and commanding debut novel...Waldman skillfully presents the perspectives of a handful of major characters...This is a remarkably assured portrait of how a populace grows maddened and confused when ideology trumps empathy. A stellar debut. Waldman's book reflects a much-needed understanding of American paranoia in the post-9/11 world. - Kirkus Review, starred review
A wonderful novel which challenges your beliefs. - The Sun
Waldman’s characters are wholly realised and believable as individuals, but they also stand for stories and conflicts that go beyond their own lives. Particularly adept is the mirroring of Khan’s growing self-righteousness with Burwell’s crumbling liberal attitudes. - Guardian
written with authority and panache - Independent
Amy Waldman’s intelligent debut novel… A gripping and wonderfully humane book - Mail on Sunday
Amy Waldman was co-chief of the South Asia bureau of The New York Times. Her fiction has appeared in The Atlantic and the Boston Review and is anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010. She lives with her family in Brooklyn. This is her first novel.