Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Submission by Amy Waldman


The Submission
by Amy Waldman
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011
299 pages
source: library copy

In a nutshell:
The premise of the novel is quite simple - a blind competition to design a memorial to 9/11 victims is won by a Muslim and a storm of controversy ensues.

My thoughts:

This novel took me completely by surprise. I sat down to preview the first few pages and ended up reading fifty. I never expected to become involved so quickly, but set it aside the following day after realizing I could not attend the book club meeting. My travels plans changed at the last minute (courtesy of Superstorm Sandy) and I read the book in two days, finishing just moments before the meeting.

The Submission proved thought-provoking in a ways I never imagined. There are so many approaches to the 'problem' of the memorial's designer and Waldman does an excellent job of presenting every angle. The ending was especially well done, and I loved the device of having the final chapter set at a distance of twenty years.

Book club reaction:

There were only six of us present, but everyone read the book - an unusual occurrence! We all liked the novel to varying degrees and one of us really loved it. The discussion was thorough, far-reaching, and we stayed on topic much longer than usual. A couple members mentioned referring to the dictionary a time or two. We all agreed this was a book we would not have chosen on our own and were grateful to receive the recommendation from another group.

We shared a laugh over this quote:
"It had taken her a long time to get to New York City, which was where she had always imagined herself. During her exile in the wilderness of nowhere America - Brattleboro, Duluth, Syracuse, backwaters too much like her birthplace - she had the strange, horrible sense that things were not going as planned, even though she told everyone they were exactly what she had planned." p.60
Nowhere America? Hey, we all love Syracuse... and think Brattleboro and Duluth are probably nice places, too!

My rating:



Bottom line:
A very thought-provoking novel, and an excellent choice for book clubs.



20 comments:

  1. I danced around this one for awhile, trying to decide whether I needed to tackle it. It seemed heavy. But EW loved it, and I read a few other positive reviews as well. I wonder why the author has it out for those towns???? Haha

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    1. Sandy - It's not really heavy at all, just very thought-provoking. Go for it!

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  2. and Brattleboro has some awesome beer.

    SO, this might be a good choice for book club, huh? I think I would enjoy it.

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    1. Care - Definitely a good book club choice. Maybe I need to plan a trip to Brattleboro?

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  3. I really want to read this one and have it on my shelf already. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it and had a good discussion about it!

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    1. Kathleen - I'll be curious to see what you think.

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  4. My book club is reading this one too. I think there will be plenty to discuss.

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    Replies
    1. Ti - Be prepared for a lively discussion!

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  5. I wish I had a book club like yours. I may have to read this one because it sounds very engaging and thought-provoking!

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    Replies
    1. Staci - I know I've said this before, but I sure wish you lived closer. You'd be a great addition to our club!

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  6. I wouldn't have given this book a second thought but if you enjoyed it, I'll give it a try. I love the cover.

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    1. Vasilly - I never considered reading it, even after some very positive reviews from bloggers. Guess that's one of the benefits of book clubs!

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  7. Is this based on a true story? Didn't that actually happen? The book sounds thought provoking.

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    Replies
    1. Kathy - We wondered the same thing and spent some time talking/googling the mosque at ground zero.

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  8. It's always a pleasure to be surprised by books.

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    Replies
    1. Harvee - This was one of my biggest surprises of the year!

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  9. Almost bought this with my birthday book tokens. Picked it up and put it down again! Wish I'd read your post first. Ah well, maybe I'll get some more tokens for Christmas!

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    Replies
    1. Vintage Reading - This is definitely worth reading. Perhaps you could borrow it from a library instead?

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  10. I need to find or form a book group! I am curious as to how close to reality it is.

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    Replies
    1. Stacybuckeye - Book groups are the best for pulling me outside my comfort zone. We wondered about the reality in this one too!

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