Claire Harwell hasn't settled into grief; events haven't let her. Cool, eloquent, raising two fatherless children, Claire has emerged as the most visible of the 9/11 widows who became a potent political force in the aftermath of the catastrophe. She longs for her husband, but she has found her mission: she sits on a jury charged with selecting a fitting memorial for the victims of the attack. Of the thousands of anonymous submissions that she and her fellow jurors examine, one transfixes Claire: a garden on whose walls the names of the dead are inscribed. But when the winning envelope is opened, they find the designer is Mohammad Khan - Mo - an enigmatic Muslim-American who, it seems, feels no need to represent anyone's beliefs except his own.
When the design and its creator are leaked, a media firestorm erupts, and Claire finds herself trying to balance principles against emotions amid escalating tensions about the place of Islam in America.
A remarkably bold and ambitious debut, The Submission is peopled with journalists, activists, mourners, and bureaucrats who struggle for advantage and fight for their ideals. In this deeply humane novel, the breadth of Amy Waldman's cast of characters is matched by her startling ability to conjure individual lives from their own points of view. A striking portrait of a city - and a country - fractured by old hatreds and new struggles, The Submission is a major novel by an important new talent.
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I found this to be one of the most interesting and challenging books I have read or listened to. Waldman poses a question that is quite relevant today in the light of the Ground Zero Muslim Center controversy. How tolerant are we willing or able to be? I found her characters to be complex and challenging. Few of them were unequivocally moral or likeable but the listener could easily relate to the dilemmas they faced. This is a story that will stick with most readers, I believe.