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The Submission    by Amy Waldman order for
by Amy Waldman
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Amy Waldman has written a book for our time. The Submission is the story of what happens to a competition for the memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attack, all because the winning architect turns out to be Muslim.

The committee formed to select the winner includes various constituents: victim's families, artists, critics, historians, business people who deal in public art, various government officials and the chairman of the committee, a former banker. We first learn about their biases and opinions. After they discover the winning architect's name is Mohammed, the next body of people become part of the story: the press, the Muslim community, large and small, and the architect and his family.

How it all works out makes for very interesting reading. Waldman is at pains to point out the counterpoint between an artist's right to reveal or not reveal anything beyond the work itself and the community's felt need for reassurance, even while both are struggling against the opportunism of the press, politicians and the agendas of all the various other groups involved.

This is sure-fire discussion material for book groups. The novel has won at least six awards. For me, though, it is much too short. There are many different points of view and many characters, who deserve much more development. And the epilogue is a bit quick and tidy. Neither of these criticisms, though, can diminish the insight and validity the author brings to this work.

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