Friday Morning Bookclub

April 6, 2013

The Submission By Amy Waldman

Filed under: Book Recomendations,The Submission — susanbright @ 11:52 am


For months the jury had been reviewing the thousands of anonymous submissions for the September 11th memorial contest. Finally they were down to two designs.  The Garden, Claire’s favorite was beautiful and a place she could imagine her family and other victim’s families visiting. The second design, The Void was just too dark for her. Although there were artists, politicians, a retired university president and a historian on the panel, Claire was the only jury member who had lost a family member. Claire’s husband had been killed in the attack and she represented the families. It was time to vote and Claire was ecstatic when The Garden design was chosen for the memorial.

The piece of paper containing the winner’s name was passed from palm to palm like a fragile folio. There were a few gasps and “hmmms,” an “interesting,” an “oh my.” Then: “Jesus fucking Christ. It’s a goddam Muslim!

What an amazing premise! What now? Should they eliminate the winner just because his name was Mohammed? Could this be a “healing gesture” as one juror suggested or was it a disaster just waiting to happen. Was the beautiful Garden memorial actually a Islamic garden; a martyrs paradise?  What should they do…what could they do? A winner had been selected fair and square.

Mohammed Khan or “Mo” as his friends called him was born in Virginia, the son of Muslim Immigrants from India. He was a talented, ambitious architect. We get to know Mo and feel for him when he gets pulled out of the security line at the airport just because of his name. We are also introduced to Sean, an angry young man whose brother was killed in the twin tower attack and could not accept a memorial designed by a Muslim. And then there is Asma Anmar, a pregnant, illegal Bangladeshi immigrant whose husband was also killed in the attack.

The Submission touches on so many relevant topics. How do we feel about American Muslims? There is still so much fear and confusion when it comes to Islam. Last year as I was driving home I noticed a group of people gathered on the front lawn of the Slade mansion in Pikesville. They were clearly Muslim and engaged in some type of ceremony. At the time I was unaware that the Baltimore Congregation of The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam had bought the property and I have to admit that I was startled and somewhat uncomfortable. We all have a lot to learn. The Submission is a quick read and is definitely food for thought.

The Official Website for The Submission, a Novel by Amy Waldman



  1. Didn’t something like that really happen? We lived in Auburn during 9/11 and there was a good sized Muslim community there – they were so integrated in the community no one really paid attention.

    Comment by BermudaOnion — April 7, 2013 @ 7:08 pm | Reply

    • Amy Waldman got her inspiration from the controversy surrounding the Vietnam Veterans Memorial which was designed by Maya Lin, an Asian American. I don’t think anyone pays attention or hardly even notices the Mosque in Baltimore either.

      Comment by susanbright — April 8, 2013 @ 8:06 am | Reply

  2. I also loved this book for making me feel this way and that – I never made up my mind about what was the best thing to do with regards to the submission. The book described the points of views of the different characters so well.

    Comment by Leeswammes — April 8, 2013 @ 8:01 am | Reply

    • I agree. I would have hated to be on that jury. Any decision made was sure to have major consequences. The Submission is a great discussion book!

      Comment by susanbright — April 8, 2013 @ 8:21 am | Reply

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