Book Review

We have a new book review to share with you this week from our Library Managersubmission Jim Temple – ‘The Submission’ by Amy Waldman.

“An impressively researched novel which explores many important issues in an engaging and intelligent way. From ruminations on the relationship between art, culture and identity, to the fractured polarisation of the West’s relationship with Islam in the post-911 world.

The Submission starts with the revealing, after quite fraught deliberations among the jurors, of the results of an architecture competition to build a memorial to the victims of 911 at Ground Zero.  The anonymous winner is revealed to be Mohammed Khan, an ambitious young architect of Islamic ancestry. The result is leaked to the press before the already deeply divided jury can decide what to do about what will be a highly controversial choice, in an America simmering with confused, Anti-Muslim sentiment.

There are some wonderful character portraits of the main protagonists. Mo, the once confident designer of the winning memorial garden, comfortable with his American lifestyle, is driven to explore and reflect on his Muslim heritage.

Waldman’s story is underpinned by meticulous research into her subject matter and the intelligent exploration of contemporary issues. For example, there are parallels with the real life outrage surrounding the winning of the competition to build the Vietnam War memorial in the 1980s by Maya Lin because of her East Asian origins. Also, the irony that the World Trade Center’s actual architect, Minoru Yamasaki, had used Islamic influences in his design of the pointed arch-like motifs at the foot of the towers.

All these factors combine to create a novel that has deservedly received high, critical, acclaim.”

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