Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Submission: A Novel Hardcover – August 16, 2011
|New from||Used from|
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
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
“Nervy and absorbing . . . A story that has more verisimilitude, more political resonance and way more heart than The Bonfire of the Vanities . . . Writing in limber, detailed prose, Ms. Waldman has created a choral novel with a big historical backdrop and pointillist emotional detail, a novel that gives the reader a visceral understanding of how New York City and the country at large reacted to 9/11, and how that terrible day affected some Americans' attitudes toward Muslims and immigrants . . . Ms. Waldman does an affecting job of showing how people who have lost relatives in the terrorist attack are trying to grapple with their own confusion and conflicting emotions, even as they find themselves caught up in a political conflagration. Indeed, it is Ms. Waldman's ability to depict their grief and anger . . . that lends this novel its extraordinary emotional ballast.” ―Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Elegantly written and tightly plotted . . . With the keen and expert eye of an excellent journalist, Waldman provides telling portraits of all the drama's major players, deftly exposing their foibles and their mutual manipulations. And she has a sense of humor: the novel is punctuated with darkly comic details [which] would seem richly satirical were it not for the fact that they so closely reflect reality . . . 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.” ―Claire Messud, The New York Times Book Review
“Moving . . . Eloquent . . . A coherent, timely and fascinating examination of a grieving America's relationship with itself. Waldman . . . excels at involving the reader in vibrant dialogues in which the level of the debate is high and the consequences significant . . . In presenting us with a world that is recognizably our own, despite her tweaking of one of its variables, the author subverts the central dictum of alternate history: namely, that the single historical switch should precipitate multiple and major consequences. Instead, brilliantly, Waldman gives us back our own world.” ―Chris Cleave, The Washington Post
“Masterful . . . [A] scathing, dazzlingly crafted indictment of the messes people make when they mistake ideology for morality and bigotry for patriotism . . . Waldman, an ex-New York Times bureau chief, unspools her story with the truth-bound grit of a seasoned journalist and the elegance of a born novelist.” ―Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“Propulsive and thoughtful . . . [A] smart and sensitive work of fiction.” ―Mark Athitakis, Star-Tribune (Minneapolis)
“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.” ―Anne Trubek, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
“A novel whose time has come . . . [Amy Waldman's] debut novel is a sharp work with complex characters and an unflinching skepticism about human motivation. Waldman recognizes the tragedy of 9/11 without indulging in sentimentality . . . Much of the power in Waldman's writing comes from her ability to gradually reveal layer upon layer of her characters' circumstances, creating a continual sense of enlightenment as the story progresses.” ―M.L. Johnson, Associated Press
“[A] gripping, deeply intelligent novel . . . Panoramic in scope but thrillingly light on its feet . . . Waldman does a masterful job of getting into the heads of New Yorkers . . . [A] dazzling tapestry of a grieving city.” ―Kimberly Cutter, Marie Claire
“Waldman, a former South Asia bureau co-chief for the Times, has antennae well tuned to the media circus. Perhaps it's her reporter's skill that makes her so nimble at sketching in characters; she's a penetrating psychologist, especially for a first novelist. She weaves together a half-dozen stories, from the top to the bottom of New York's social strata, and keeps them moving briskly forward; you never want to stop reading.” ―Craig Seligman, Bloomberg News
“In her magnetizing first novel, replete with searing insights and exquisite 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 brilliantly delineates 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 our time.” ―Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
“[An] emotionally and politically rich novel . . . The Submission raises wrenching post-9/11 questions about what it means to be an American . . . [Waldman's] novel transcends ideological politics.” ―Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
“Fascinating . . . Brilliant . . . The genius of Waldman's novel is that it captures the manner in which a member of a group that has become part of an ideological tussle will often come to be stripped of his humanity and viewed as a symbol . . . A searing personal saga.” ―Rayyan Al-Shawaf, New York Press
“[The Submission] accomplishes the rare feat of being prescient after the fact, a counterfactual novel that turns out to be accurate in all the details that matter . . . [Waldman is] as convincing in an apartment full of Bangladeshi immigrants as she is among the martini-quaffing suits in midtown . . . A New Yorker might well read The Submission before bed and wake up the next morning believing it actually happened.” ―Jess Row, New York
“Addictively readable . . . A frank exposé of American bigotry--and a nuanced examination of the way in which a national tragedy brings out the best and worst in its citizens . . . Not unlike The Wire's David Simon, Waldman, a former New York Times South Asia bureau chief, has an eye for the less sound bite–worthy but crucial ways in which ideology and influence make their imprint on the world . . . as well as the ability to dramatize how the abstract choices made by elites in a conference room have unfathomable repercussions for others with narrower options.” ―Megan O'Grady, Vogue
“Waldman boldly re-imagines an eerily realistic alternate history of the years after 9/11 . . . [The Submission] refracts with uncanny insight the public ambitions and private pain that have shaped us, showing us ourselves with rueful grace . . . With a reporter's keen eye for how stories spin and are spun, Waldman dramatizes the press's machinations as perhaps only a journalist could.” ―Tess Taylor, Barnes & Noble Review
“[A] provocative and smartly conceived book.” ―Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“[A] poised and commanding debut novel . . . 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 Reviews (starred review)
“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.” ―Richard Price, author of Freedomland and Lush Life
“Waldman fluidly blends her reporter's skill . . . at rapid-fire storytelling with a novelist's gift for nuanced characterization. She dares readers to confront their own complicated prejudices steeped in faith, culture, and class. This is an insightful, courageous, heartbreaking work that should be read, discussed, then read again.” ―Sally Bissell, Library Journal (starred review)
“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.” ―Lorraine Adams, author of Harbor and The Room and the Chair
“Frighteningly plausible and tightly wound . . . Waldman addresses with a refreshing frankness thorny moral questions and ethical ironies without resorting to breathless hyperbole.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
At the centre of the story are several representative characters and the narrative moves from one to another's ongoing story: the architect Mo, son of Indian immigrants born in the US; the jury president, Paul, trying to find acceptable compromise to please all sides; Claire, the victims' families' representative on the jury, Sean, almost Claire's alter-ego who wasn't chosen for the jury, and, last but not least, Asma, widow of an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh. While their actions and reflections carry the story forward, they are surrounded by various vocal individuals and interest groups interested in the evolving storm. Waldman, while conveying the inner conflicts of her characters convincingly, keeps nonetheless a certain intellectual distance and emotional reserve that can also easily be transferred to the reader.
The real-life processes and debates around the Memorial design in the aftermath of 9/11 and the suggested uses of the empty space of the Twin Towers will be familiar to most readers of Waldman's book. How much the author can add to these or bring to the fore additional layers of complexities will be up to the individual reader to decide. Personally, I could relate to the novel at the issue-based level more than at an emotional one. I found Claire's character less convincing than it might have been. Asma, the young Bangladeshi woman, on the other hand appeared to me to be one of the most authentic individuals in the novel. Finally, Mo's evolving behaviour and related explanations may be disappointing to some readers: his early self-definition "I am an architect and an American. I also happen to be a Muslim..." and his idea that his design "would provide a way for the families, the nation to mourn and to remember all that was lost on that day, and also to heal..." stands as a continuous challenge throughout the novel. [Friederike Knabe]
The brilliance of Amy Waldman's book is that she does not try to apply logic to why 9/11 occurred, nor does she attempt to recreate the complex and traumatic emotions that most Americans felt that day. Instead, she explores something broader: the fallout of a country confused, divided, and sick with fear, clamoring to make sense of the insensible.
The book begins with an ambiguous title: The Submission. On a concrete level, the submission refers to anonymous submissions by architects - in the best democratic tradition - who vie for the right to build an enduring memorial to Ground Zero. But read those words again, and the meaning is far deeper. Is Waldman referring to the submission of Muslims to Qur'an law, forcing them into outsider positions? Or is she writing of the submission of too many Americans to their deepest fears?
A little of all three interpretations exist, but it becomes increasingly evident that it is the latter that Amy Waldman is most interested in. The skeleton of the story is this: the winner of the submission is an American Muslim, Mohammad Khan, whose true religion is his vaulting ambition. (At a later point, Mo's lover will say to him, "Now I see that it was about you: your design, your reputation, your place in history.") Raised in the United States since birth, Mo (as he is universally called) has barely set foot in a mosque his entire life. His design - a garden - is comforting and soothing, particularly to the sole member of the selection jury who is also the widow of a 9/11 victim.
Once Mo's identity is leaked at the winner, the fervor begins. He is called, among other things, "decadent, abstinent, deviant, violent, insolent, abhorrent, aberrant, and typical." Amy Waldman, the former bureau chief of the New York Times, knows this territory intimately: the ambitious reporter who will do anything for a scoop (including defecting to the New York Post, which traffics in sensationalism), the equally ambitious governor who strives for reelection while inflaming public sentiment, the radio talk show host who plays into his audience's prejudices. Before too long, the garden is being depicted as an "Islamic victory garden", Mo is being called by his full name, and his loyalty to the U.S. is being questioned on all fronts.
Amy Waldman characters are nearly always fully realized: whether she's writing about Mo, Claire - the wealthy widow and key juror on the selection committee - or a seemingly bit player who is propelled to center stage, the Bangladeshi widow Asma, whose husband, an illegal immigrant, worked as a janitor and was killed in the attack.
Although the author's point of view is not hard to discern, to her credit, she reveals all sides and that is never clearer than during the scene when the public weighs in about the design. The question becomes: "What history do you want to write with this memorial?" Every side is represented, from the professor of Middle Eastern studies who states, "...Achieving that paradise through martyrdom - murder suicide - has become the obsession of Islamic extremists, the ultimate submission to God: to the author on Islamic gardens who asks, "Since when did we become so afraid of learning from other cultures?"
The pretentious artistic debates...the cynical political showboating...the tactical moves of special-interest groups...the media that fuels rumors rather than reports news - all are depicted here. My 5-star rating does not imply this is a literary masterpiece; it is, however, a well-written, thought-provoking, and nuanced book that will appeal to many different kinds of readers. With all the posturing, the truth is often found in just letting go. Or, as Mo eventually discovers, "He had forgotten himself, and this was the truest submission."
Most recent customer reviews
The fathers reaction to seeing his daughters mother years later, was not believable.Read more