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...

And a final message to bookclubbers: Bookclub is now on holiday until September, when Hilary Mantel will join us for an emailed Q&A on BRING UP THE BODIES. 50 copies up for grabs from tomorrow morning, around 10.30am...

aristocat Tue 31-Jul-12 22:13:54

Thanks so much for your super replies smile good luck for the next one!

AmyWaldman Tue 31-Jul-12 22:07:15

Thank you Tilly and everyone who came on! It's 5 p.m. here and I'm going to make my children "hot tea," which is their favorite phrase these days. And maybe give them dinner too.

We'd better call it a day and let Amy get back to her tea/wine/beer (not sure what time it is for you, Amy!).

It has been a fascinating discussion, thank you to everyone for such insightful questions and interesting takes on the book.

Amy, thank you so much for giving us your time and energy and being such a star. Your answers have been extremely thoughtful and illuminating, and incredibly speedily typed, to boot...

And thanks again for a wonderful novel.

Good luck with your next project, I am looking forward to reading it immensely.

Devora Tue 31-Jul-12 22:04:44

Thanks for answering our questions, and best of luck with the potty training and the book smile

AmyWaldman Tue 31-Jul-12 22:04:04

Devora

Is it cheeky to ask what you're writing next, Amy? Or are you swallowed up in potty training right now?

I've addressed, vaguely, what I'm working on in a couple of questions, so please check the thread. But yes, I am also potty training now, the two of them, which is both twice as hard and twice as easy, since they motivate each other! Should we end on that note? It sums up well the strange toggle between work and life!

AmyWaldman Tue 31-Jul-12 22:01:16

TillyBookClub

One quick last question before we run out of time: which authors inspire you? Did you have anyone specific that you turned to when you were writing this book, a sort of 'how would ..... do this' ?

I didn't have anyone specific I would turn to, only because I didn't have a particular model for The Submission. But when my writing is flat or I feel uninspired the first thing I do is go to my bookshelf and read --- everyone from Tolstoy to Emily Dickinson to Flannery O'Connor to Jonathan Franzen. It reminds me of the possibilities of language, and of why I write in the first place.

Thanks so much for having me! It's been a pleasure.

Devora Tue 31-Jul-12 21:59:04

Is it cheeky to ask what you're writing next, Amy? Or are you swallowed up in potty training right now?

AmyWaldman Tue 31-Jul-12 21:58:15

And just to address some of the opinions at the ending... after I moved the Kabul garden scene to the end I did weigh finishing the book there. But I was already attached to moving forward into the future, partly because I wanted to see how time changed perspectives, where Mo ended up, and I also felt there was this (literally) small chorus of children in the book who would by then be adults. But I do sometimes wonder about my choice, so it's interesting to hear your thoughts!

southlondonlady Tue 31-Jul-12 21:56:45

Thank you for answering my question - great Q&A all round.

One quick last question before we run out of time: which authors inspire you? Did you have anyone specific that you turned to when you were writing this book, a sort of 'how would ..... do this' ?

Devora Tue 31-Jul-12 21:54:20

Just arrived back on the thread after a protracted battle with my own 2 year old. Interesting discussion smile

AmyWaldman Tue 31-Jul-12 21:53:31

Belatedly getting some of the punctuation....strike-throughs were actually meant to be between hyphens, not strike-throughs, so apologies for that! Hope you can still read the full answers.

AmyWaldman Tue 31-Jul-12 21:52:45

Belo

No, I don't think characters need to be likeable. But, I do think they need to draw an emotion from the reader. And, for me not to like them shows that there personalities are coming through. I think that makes them successful as characters.

So, by me saying I don't like the characters in your book, you can take that as a compliment smile

Thank you!

AmyWaldman Tue 31-Jul-12 21:50:47

TillyBookClub

I crossed posts there, sorry!

That is a very interesting answer. I can see parallels in that sort of risk-aversness all through Western thinking. We do feel we should be invincible, and failure hits us so hard.

Yes, invincible is the word I was looking for!

I crossed posts there, sorry!

That is a very interesting answer. I can see parallels in that sort of risk-aversness all through Western thinking. We do feel we should be invincible, and failure hits us so hard.

AmyWaldman Tue 31-Jul-12 21:49:23

TillyBookClub

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction?

Three pieces of advice, actually. Read a lot. Find material or a subject that’s like your fingerprint: unique to your imagination and experiences. And write for yourself: because it gives you pleasure, because it’s a way to puzzle through something, not for an external goal or reward.

Sorry, I should add that the campaigns were from all over history, not just post 9/11.

AmyWaldman Tue 31-Jul-12 21:46:34

TillyBookClub

I read an interesting article in the Guardian the other day about US Presidential campaign poster art, and what message each candidate used to get elected. There seemed to be common consent that 'I'll keep you safe' was repeatedly the winner of all campaign messages.

Every electorate wants to be protected, but the US seems to highlight this issue above all others. Why do you think the US has a particularly complex relationship with national security?

It's such a profound question and a tough one to answer. Fear is a powerful emotion and motivator, and that's partly what those ads play on. And national security has become a political weapon - no one wants to be the leader who let people die on his watch. But I also think America has become a country that believes it can ward off or eliminate every kind of risk - and believing that makes you much more fearful of exposure. We go to great lengths, in every field, to avert even a single death. At one of my readings someone compared this to some Eastern cultures that are much more accepting of death as a part of life. We believe that, with all our capacities and technology, that we should be able to make ourselves invulnerable - but maybe that makes us more vulnerable psychologically.

Belo Tue 31-Jul-12 21:42:54

No, I don't think characters need to be likeable. But, I do think they need to draw an emotion from the reader. And, for me not to like them shows that there personalities are coming through. I think that makes them successful as characters.

So, by me saying I don't like the characters in your book, you can take that as a compliment smile

AmyWaldman Tue 31-Jul-12 21:41:27

TillyBookClub

.

Which childhood book most inspired you?

Of many contenders I would say Anne of Green Gables. To read, as a young girl myself, about an orphan girl who arrives to a couple wanting a boy - and then proves herself so bright and imaginative - really seized me. I wanted to be her, red hair and all.

I read an interesting article in the Guardian the other day about US Presidential campaign poster art, and what message each candidate used to get elected. There seemed to be common consent that 'I'll keep you safe' was repeatedly the winner of all campaign messages.

Every electorate wants to be protected, but the US seems to highlight this issue above all others. Why do you think the US has a particularly complex relationship with national security?

mamseul Tue 31-Jul-12 21:38:30

I can see it - although the diffrent colour highlighting thing didn't seem to work! Thanks, by the way. Don't know if you would need to seek permission in Britain. I just assumed but maybe I'm an over cautious Brit

AmyWaldman Tue 31-Jul-12 21:37:55

[quote mamseul]appreciate I'm a bit late for sending questions across, but am curious to know how Amy went about getting permission to use various celebraty names in the novel - how much context did she need to share etc?

I didn't seek anyone's permission! I am assuming it works differently in Britain, but here, as long as it's fiction, you're free to appropriate any public figure in your story. Or so I'm told.smile

AmyWaldman Tue 31-Jul-12 21:36:39

Belo

I finished the book yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm not sure how much I liked any of the characters. They were all quite arrogant I thought. Apart from Asma who considering her situation seemed quite grounded (I cried when I read about her stabbing).

Leila (the lawyer) is somebody who I thought I could have got to like. I would have liked to have known more about her.

I'm now going away to think of questions...

You're not alone in this reaction (not finding any of the readers likable, except maybe Asma) and it's been interesting for me as a writer to think about. Should characters in fiction be likable? What does that even mean? I liked my characters because they all interested me. And I wanted to explore what a situation like this does to people --- it may bring out the best; it seemed more likely, based on what I've observed, not to. I do think you learn a lot about yourself, some of it discomfiting, in writing a novel. Did I have too dark a view of human nature? (In real life, I actually like most people!) It's a question to ponder.

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