Friday, August 24, 2012
A 9/11 Novel That Gets It Right
The novel The Submission, by Amy Waldman, is:
A. Entertainment Weekly's #1 Favorite Novel of 2011
B. The Suburban Mosaic's 2012-2013 Book of the Year for adults
C. The library's Tuesday morning book group selection for September 4th
D. All of the above
If you guessed all of the above, you are correct! It's also one of the best books I read in the last year, and it is in many ways the perfect selection for the Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year program, a suburban Illinois community reading program that seeks to foster cultural understanding and reduce prejudice through literature.
The novel takes place in the aftermath of 9/11 and is told from multiple viewpoints. Among them are two 9/11 widows, one wealthy and privileged, the other an impoverished illegal immigrant; the hot-headed brother of a fireman who died in the towers, guilt-ridden over their estrangement; and a gifted architect, the winner of a contest to design the 9/11 memorial. When it is learned that the contest winner is an American Muslim, the memorial judging committee and others are caught up in a national debate in which emotions and personal agendas threaten to fragment a grieving country.
The author, Amy Waldman, has the gift of sympathy, and she enables readers to feel for and understand characters whose actions they may ultimately disagree with. That she is able to do so and take on subject matter that might feel exploitative in lesser hands is a major achievement, and the novel is a thought-provoking page-turner.
The Suburban Mosaic also selects books of the year for teens and children. The teen selection is the best-selling Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green. The other titles are Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (for grades 5-8), How Tia Lola Learned to Teach (for grades 1-4), and Spork for pre-kindergarten readers. Check one of them out to share with a young person and/or sign up at the 3rd floor desk to attend The Submission book discussion on September 4th.
Have you read any novels that address 9/11? What are your thoughts on them?