This is the latest in a series of occasional posts featuring books I read years ago about which I was wildly enthusiastic at the time, wanting to press a copy in as many hands as I could.
After the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001, it seemed that everyone, particularly American novelists, felt they had to produce a piece of writing exploring the aftermath of those horrific events. One of the best acknowledgements of it I’ve seen in fiction was Paul Auster’s glancing reference at the end of Brooklyn Follies when his narrator walks out into a bright September morning. Amy Waldman’s The Submission takes what seemed to me to be a strikingly original approach.
When a jury assembles for the final selection of a memorial for the victims of the atrocities, many are appalled to find that the previously anonymous winner is an American Muslim. Claire Burwell, widowed by the attacks, springs to Mohammed Khan’s defence, facing outrage from all sides when the news is leaked to the press. Intelligently and articulately, Waldman’s novel explores this controversy from a variety of angles, from the politically savvy chairman of the jury to a widow of a Bangladeshi victim. It’s an engrossing novel, cleverly but compassionately expressed, which neatly avoids simplifying a complex emotional and political dilemma. I suspect Waldman’s experience as a reporter for The New York Times stood her in good stead when writing it.
What about you, any blasts from the past you’d like to share?
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