Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Orange 2012: The submission (Amy Waldman)

I wondered if The submission would be depressing, since it is a book about the process of memorialisation after 9/11 in New York. However, my conclusion after finishing the book was that it wasn't - it was far more about the healing process that is undergone in the aftermath.

The book centres around a competition to design some sort of memorial to the victims of the attack. A committee deliberate and eventually choose a plan for a garden memorial. Only after the choice is made do they find out that it has been designed by a Muslim, albeit a Muslim born in Virginia and with no connections to anything other than being American.

What is so well done in this novel is the large cast of characters who all seem to have different opinions and justifications for their actions. Claire was widowed by the atrocities, yet is untypical of some of the other victims in that she wants the process to be based on merit rather than religion; Paul the chairman of the committee wants the designer to step down in order to safeguard his own non-controversial reputation; a Muslim activist Malik who sees the episode as a way to further his own cause.

I was sufficiently interested in the variety of characters and in finding out what happened to keep reading. It was an interesting concept and certainly a rather timely one, but not a book I'd especially want to read again (which I think these days is probably the criteria by which I judge books, and so far I don't think that applies to any of the Orange Longlist books)


  1. I'm glad that this met with the Verity seal of approval although it doesn't meet with you Orange criteria; this is one I wanted to read pre-longlist.

  2. I'm glad it wasn't depressing, but still not sure I want to read it any time soon.


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