The Submission by Amy Waldman

Down the stairs, back in time, until she came upon herself and Cal standing in front of Picasso’s Weeping Woman at the Tate in London.  Claire could still visualize the portrait today – the blue in her hair, the red in her hat, that ghastly, skull-like area around the mouth – more clearly, in fact, than she could see the husband who had stood next to her.

“Kind of ruins it that Picasso was so horrible, doesn’t it,” Claire had said.  “He probably made Dora Maar cry, then painted her crying.”

“So great art requires a morally pure artist?”  Cal asked.  “You look at the creation, not the creator.”

“So you ignore that he tormented poor Dora.”

“No, you judge the paintings as works of art, and Picasso as a man.  There’s no inconsistency in loving one and reviling the other.  And thankfully the converse is true as well:  you love me even though I made some pretty lousy art.  Maybe arrogance is necessary for greatness.”
-Amy Waldman,
The Submission pg. 272

Two years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a jury is voting on a memorial design to be built in remembrance.  The choices are “The Garden” or “The Void”.  The architects are anonymous in this vote. And after careful deliberations with the persistent voice of the 9/11 widow Claire, wanting to build a memorial for her late husband Cal, “The Garden” is selected.

The revealed architect:  an American educated, and professional architect, Muslim named Mohammad Khan.

Amy Waldman’s novel The Submission takes us into the still healing New York City.  It reveals the politics, fear, and never ending anger among its citizens.  Waldman uses her journalistic perspective to reveal the larger picture beyond Claire and Mohammed.  Using a multitude of other characters with sharp contrasts in personalities and ideologies of post-9/11 America, the readers wrestle with the quintessential idea of America’s post 9/11 identity and a Muslim’s persistence to let art speak for itself.  Amy Waldman has wrote a novel that challenges its readers to see these varying perspectives and the often, less spoken divides of ethnicity and religion.

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