THE SUBMISSION — Michiko Likes It!

In today’s New York Times, Michiko Kakutani calls Amy Waldman’s The Submission, (FSG; Audio, AudioGo; Large Type, Thorndike) released yesterday, a “nervy and absorbing new novel.”

“Nervy” is a good description. Waldman writes about the blind submission to an architectural panel of  plans for a 9/11-like memorial. It turns out that the winner is a Muslim-American. Kakutani says,

Though this may sound, in summary, like a contrived, high-concept premise, Ms. Waldman not only captures the political furor and media storm that ensue, but also gives us an intimate, immediate sense of the fallout that these events have on the individuals involved… [giving] the reader a visceral understanding of how New York City and the country at large reacted to 9/11.

Waldman knows intimately the many issues an event like this would raise. As a New York Times reporter, she covered the Sept. 11 attacks and interviewed victims’ family members. She also reported on the international response to the attacks.

Listen to the author talk about the book on NPR’s Leonard Lopate Show here.

The Jewish Week calls the book is “much discussed.” We haven’t heard those discussions, but given the moral issues The Submission raises, it is certain to continue being much discussed and therefore, sounds ideal for book clubs. Clearly, there is anticipation, it is showing heavy holds on light ordering in many libraries.

Chris Cleave, the author of Little Bee, reviewing the book in the Washington Post, gave this analysis of significant post-9/11 novels, which is useful as we come up on the 10th anniversary:

[The form came] to prominence in 2003 with Frederic Beigbeder’s Windows on the World, by 2005 [it] had evolved through the twin strands of Jonathan Safran Foer’s urgent and heartfelt Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Ian McEwan’s universalized and reflective Saturday. By 2006, distance permitted the satire of Jess Walter’s The Zero and the subversion of Jay McInerney’s The Good Life, and the next year brought Don DeLillo’s definitive and artful Falling Man. It is by her clever shift of focus from the events of 9/11 to their commemoration that Amy Waldman takes this literary line forward, and it is through her respect for history — her own act of submission in choosing a humbler stage — that her novel stands so proudly within it.

USA Today recently rounded up the forthcoming nonfiction that will be published around the anniversary.

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