Amy Waldman - The Submission (3 stars)

Amy Waldman - The Submission

Admirably tackling the political impacts of 9/11


Tackling the devastating emotional and political impact of 9/11 is no light undertaking but Amy Waldman grapples with it admirably in her debut The Submission. The novel centres around a panel charged with choosing the memorial to be built for those lost on that day. Of course, it’s not as straightforward as simply picking the winner, a myriad of issues are raised as a result of their decision – class and race proving particularly explosive – as mourning families and power-hungry extremists and reporters with dubious morals clamber to have their voices heard on the contentious matter.

Waldman’s characters are complex and problematic – as she attempts to capture people at their most vulnerable and unpredictable amid the chaos – but it feels like the enormity of the backdrop to this story and its many offshoots overpowers the author’s rendering of her main protagonists, who we remain at a distance from throughout the tragedy and turmoil. It’s the only sticking point in an otherwise impressive first foray.

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