The Submission, a novel by Amy Waldman

What a beautifully written novel!
Haven't had such satisfying reading experience in some time.

9/11 - Terrorist attacks in the US - The twin towers of World Trade Center collapsed - thousands of people perished.
Two years later, a memorial has been commissioned - designs were invited from independent architects through anonymous competition.
A jury of artists, art historians and critics is convened under the chairmanship of a retired banker.
There is only one person unconnected with art on the jury - her husband died in the tower collapse - as such, she is the voice and conscience of the "Families" - She is the incredibly beautiful Claire Burwell.
And she picked the Garden as the winner among the designs. She used her charm and wit to rally all the jury members to see it through her eyes, and almost gets a unanimous verdict on it.

And then they find out - the design was submitted by a young architect by name Mohammad Khan. Interestingly enough, he is the son of middle class, professional liberal Indian muslim parents who had migrated to the USA.

From the point of this revelation, Ms. Waldman takes us on a nuanced richly textured exploration of multiple viewpoints, cultures and psyches for the next 250 odd pages. Along the way, she poses some interesting questions about values - cultural and religious; about democracy, what it represents; about rights and freedoms and duties and responsibilities; and finally about self - what do I see myself as? What do I see when I look in the mirror? Am I comfortable with what this person really is? Race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, class - every facet of a person's identity is put under a microscope for the reader to view it with utmost clarity.

That is not to say the novel delves only Jungian archetypes and psyche-babble. Ms. Waldman is as skillful in letting her characters develop without interference as she is in that neat turn of phrase and elegant use of the English language.

Three thumbs up!


vasantham said…
Heard aboot this book, a voice of reasoning, a voice of balance in these troubledtimes of divisive society, must lay my hands ,and enjoy reading this novel Thanks for the ontroduction..nice reading..