September 16, 2011

BOOKS: The Submission, Amy Waldman (2011)

When the winner of the competition to design the 9/11 memorial turns out to be a Muslim architect, controversy explodes. Sadly, the idea is more interesting than the execution.  Waldman is too often guilty of turning her characters into mouthpieces for specific political views rather than well-rounded people, and some characters are so burdened with meaning -- the 9/11 widow, for instance, who also happens to be an illegal Bangladeshi immigrant -- that there's no way for any hint of humanity to leak out from beneath the symbolic weight. Further, Waldman cops out a bit on her own controversy by making her winning architect a non-practicing secular Muslim, which sends the unfortunate message "Islamic culture OK, Islamic faith bad." Of interest only if you haven't had enough dogmatic preaching in your life lately.

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