Join Amy Waldman to talk about THE SUBMISSION, our July Book of the Month, on Tues 31 July, 9-10pm

(103 Posts)

Our July Book of the Month, THE SUBMISSION, is set in New York, in the aftermath of 9/11. A committee has come together to decide on the most fitting memorial to the city's dead. Claire, the only widow in the group, has fought for a beautiful garden that she feels will give healing to the bereaved. But when they open the winning envelope, they find the previously anonymous designer is an American Muslim... Anger, grief, fear, nationalism, Islam, politics - this book covers it all. It moves fast, it is fantastically diverse and it has a strong beating heart. Just like NYC.

The Guardian called THE SUBMISSION 'an exceptional debut novel about a changing America...pitch perfect' - you can read the full review here.

The book of the month page with more detail about THE SUBMISSION and our giveaway of 50 free copies of Amy's book will go live on Thursday 28 June at 10am. We'll close the giveaway after 24 hours and pick 50 names randomly, and we'll email you to let you know if your name was chosen within 48 hours.

And if you're not lucky enough to bag one of those, you can get your Kindle edition or your paperback here

We are delighted that Amy will be joining us to chat about THE SUBMISSION on Tuesday 31 July, 9-10pm. We'll be discussing the book throughout the month so don't forget to put your thoughts and questions up here before the chat. Hope you can join us...

waitingforgodot Mon 16-Jul-12 09:23:34

yay! Got my book. Have just started it. Thank you Mumsnet!

ProfCoxWouldGetIt Mon 16-Jul-12 11:55:47

Book has arrived at home this morning, Thanks MumsNet smile

BiscuitNibbler Mon 16-Jul-12 13:38:23

Picked my copy up from the post office this morning. Just started it and have got into it straight away - always a good sign.

Thank you!

lilibet Tue 17-Jul-12 20:09:24

I'm feeling a bit blush, I've got a free copy and then realised I'm in France for the discussion. Sorry!

nailak Tue 17-Jul-12 20:48:23

I just got my book today!! will be getting stuck in very soon!

nailak Tue 17-Jul-12 22:07:10

Ok so I've just read chapter 2, I think it is very interesting to the portrayal of different views on Muslims and the different forms of islamaphobia and how they can manifest themselves, from people thinking they are doing Muslims a favour to outright assumptions that they are likely to be terrorists. It also shows how people can not be sure what to think and don't think what they feel is the right thing to think. It also shows how discrimination could occur in the workplace etc.

nailak Wed 18-Jul-12 13:02:28

ive finished, anyone wanna discuss?

I liked chapter 3, i can identify with it, how i never felt like an outsider until people told me I was.

nailak Wed 18-Jul-12 17:06:27

how does this work? do we wait until 31st july to discuss?

Devora Wed 18-Jul-12 23:08:41

I finished it today. Reporting for duty grin

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 19-Jul-12 09:23:17

nailak

how does this work? do we wait until 31st july to discuss?

Anything you want to say about the book while it's fresh in your mind, please post now (but if possible without spoilers). And any questions for Amy, ditto, please post. The more, the merrier.

Sorry, am late in replying, just want to add to GeraldineMumsnet's message and say everyone is free to discuss and put questions up whenever they want. And Amy will come on and reply to messages on 31st, where we continue the discussion with her.

I'm off to bed with my copy now. At least this rain is good for early nights and reading...

Devora Fri 20-Jul-12 00:04:08

OK, before I forget then, let me say I really enjoyed this book. The writing was very controlled, I really enjoyed the thoughtful characterisations - everyone not quite what they seemed, layers of ambivalence and doubt. I think she brought forward issues around identity, guilt, memory, collective responsibility, tabloid newsmaking etc very skilfully. I was hooked in very quickly and absorbed till the end.

I didn't think it was perfect. I thought the penultimate chapter ended beautifully, on a very strong visual image. She should have finished it there. Adding on the '20 years later' final chapter felt too much like tying up loose ends that were better left untied, ambiguous. It is still too early to know what the long term sequelae of 9/11 will be, and I think she shouldn't have taken a punt on that.

Which ties in to my other criticism, which was that it was a bit obvious at times. I felt she told us rather than showed us, and hammered messages home that were pretty clear and unambiguous and therefore unlikely to be missed. There were no real surprises to the characters - they were archetypes - and no real surprises in the plot. I wonder if she is imagining people like her character Sean picking up this book? Because I suppose I think the readers will all be Claires, and so can take something a bit more nuanced and ambiguous.

But I don't want that to overshadow what I thought of this book, which was that it was a really good read, well paced, richly characterised, and handling important issues with a calm thoroughness and balance that I thought worked really well and also didn't disturb the narrative or the force of the story.

nailak Fri 20-Jul-12 03:48:50

DO you think that the book gave you a better understanding of what it means to be Muslim in this time?

Is that the aim of the book? to make people evaluate their prejudices?? about illegal immigrants, about Muslims, about tabloid press? about democracy?

porridgelover Tue 24-Jul-12 15:19:43

Finished this last night. Wow...for a first book this is a zinger. I am envious of the writing talent.
Devora, I think yours is an excellent review and covered many of my observations. There were no great surprises in the plot- I anticipated many of the twists even down to the play on the double meaning of 'submission'. So, wow, clever me (I figured it out while telling my 8yo what 'submission' means grin).
But the engaging bit for me was how the writer convincingly shows how different people bring their own histories to an issue, how sometimes our guiding principles seem so clear but can be so easily manipulated, how people change their minds under pressure, how prejudice works and how we can understand all sides of it. She must be an astute observer of people.
Like Devora, I wasn't satisfied with the last chapter, and found the last line schmaltzy.

Devora Tue 24-Jul-12 20:18:27

I thought she explored Clare's feelings about her husband very well. Handling the doubt, the ambivalence, the honesty without ever slipping into disrespect or trashing the memory. (I'm talking about the relationship as if it were real, which is a sign of good writing.)

porridgelover Tue 24-Jul-12 22:28:07

Yes- and the character of Sean. Initially, not someone I'd sympathy for; but came around to see the difficulty of his situation; just as he also came around.
And the hardening of Mo's stance...
And that awful journalist....
And
And
And
The book really is terribly well done.

Devora and porridge, thank you for great messages. Have you got any specific questions re the ending/characters etc?

Just a reminder to everyone that we'll be forwarding questions to Amy on Monday, so don't forget to pop them up here...

Devora Thu 26-Jul-12 20:21:18

Ooh yes, I forgot that we could ask Amy questions. Right, here's mine (not expecting her to answer all four, obviously):

1. Can you tell us a bit about the timing of this book? Did you start wanting to write it after 9/11, or after the brouhaha about the proposed Muslim Cultural Centre near Ground Zero?

2. What have the reactions to your book been like in the US, and elsewhere? Are you reaching an audience beyond the liberal Clare types? Have you had any reaction from bereaved friends, or from Muslim readers?

3. Do you think this book could have come out earlier, or did it take till now for the US public to be ready for a fictionalisation of these issues?

4. I thought your description of the walled garden in the penultimate chapter was so beautiful and evocative. Have you visited a garden like that? Was it a deliberate plot device to keep the design obscured until nearly the end, and then let it flower in prose?

I've been thinking about the book a lot since finishing it, so thank you. And congratulations again on your achievement - I have a partner who is a writer, with a new book out, so I am fully aware (oh, and how) what a demanding and challenging process it is smile

Devora Thu 26-Jul-12 20:22:30

C'mon MNetters, surely you're not all reading 50 Shades of Kinky Malinki? grin

nailak Fri 27-Jul-12 00:15:03

"I wonder if she is imagining people like her character Sean picking up this book? Because I suppose I think the readers will all be Claires, and so can take something a bit more nuanced and ambiguous"

IMO the book is aimed at Claires, as it makes them re evaluate their preconceptions.

Mumsnet is full of CLaires, and the themes in the book occur regularly here. For instance expecting all muslims to condemn terrorist acts. Making Muslims feel seperate from the society by saying they are not integrating with the culture in the country etc

Something I found interesting is how in the end he did "go home to his own country" and his real own country, that he loved and was connected to missed out on his talent as they were prejudiced towards him. He decided to go somewhere in which he didnt have to prove himself in that manner, that only the quality of his work mattered, not his name. It made me wonder about those threads were people get offended that Muslims dont want to shake oppossite sexes hands etc, and people say they should go somewhere else if they feel like that.

Devora Fri 27-Jul-12 00:17:00

Good points, nailak.

porridgelover Sat 28-Jul-12 14:16:19

OOh Tilly...is that a wrist smack grin?
You're quite right- I was so busy showing off my observations I forgot to question Amy.

So my question is; in this book I loved how some characters initially had beliefs which changed, sometimes over the course of a conversation. The characters could easily have been shallower but still told a solid story without this element.

Where do you find your insights into motivation come from- do you people watch? So you have an interest/training in psychology? Where do you get your ability to observe and analyse people so well?

nailak Sat 28-Jul-12 15:58:17

1) my question is how much research did you do? did you live with illegal immigrants?

ha ha! not a wrist smack, porridge, although quite like the image of self as strict headmistress, stalking the thread with a giant copy of Dickens to bash everyone on the head. Might change nickname to MissTrunchbull.

Thanks for excellent questions, I am emailing them to Amy now.

And do keep them coming - the more advance questions the better, as we can get through more messages that way.

Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow, 9pm..

southlondonlady Mon 30-Jul-12 10:16:58

I read this book a while ago and I enjoyed it, I think it is more about following the characters over time rather than the messages which I agree are fairly obvious. The character of Sean was particularly interesting to me, his motivations and how he was swept up in the 'anti' campaign but then realised it had all gone too far.

My question for Amy: was there a reason for choosing an Irish American family for the 'anti' side? I don't remember any reference to this in the book but there are obviously close parallels with Mo's story, as in, Irish people have been regarded with suspicion at various points in history and sometimes expected to explicitly condemn the IRA when this should go without saying.

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