Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Amy Waldman's The Submission

I read about this book about six months ago - somewhere - I can never figure out where I hear about these things that come up on my radar screen. Unsure of the protocol, I emailed Barbara Hoffert at Library Journal and asked her if I can request certain titles for review. Absolutely, was the answer. I knew that I wanted this one and was hoping that it would make a good book discussion title for next season.

Well, I got it, and it would! The problem is that it's almost too controversial. I just wasn't sure that I could handle it with my usual aplomb. Just how far did I want to push my customers out of their comfort zone? As the media keeps reminding us - over and over and over - it's been ten long years since that fateful day in New York City when we learned what it's like to be on the receiving end of a surprise attack. Ah, if only those young people sitting at computer stations at Langley running drones into people's homes thousands of miles away could recall how their parents felt on 9/11.

It's supposed to be a common truth that tragedy draws people together but on Sept. 11th the opposite happened. American turned against American in the worst possible way and the great divide that was wrought that day continues unabated ten years later. Did I read that Herman Cain, admittedly a long shot presidential contender, said this week that any town can refuse to allow a mosque to be built? Could they refuse to allow a church to be built? A synagogue? Hmmmm......

Ms. Waldman's novel, simply titled The Submission, comes out next month and brilliantly addresses our deepest prejudices. I couldn't put it down. The premise is that a contest is held for submission by artists and architects the world over to design a 9/11 memorial. Sitting on the panel is an array of professional critics, politically connected monied folks, and a widow representing the families who lost loved ones in the attack. The wrangling is ferocious, resentments and animosity run high - so what else is new? But eventually the committee defers to the widow and a winner is chosen.

Rather than reinvent the wheel I'll simply offer you the link to my starred review - hoo ha - that appeared in this month's edition of Library Journal. See for yourself if you don't want to run out and place this title on hold. As always, the reviews are alphabetical by author's last name so do scroll all the way down to "Waldman."

1 comment:

theoncominghope said...

I just finished the novel, and I have to say, it's one of the best books I've read recently. I wrote sort of a long treatise about it's place in the Age of Hysteria and why it's important here: