Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Submission” as Want to Read:
The Submission
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Submission

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  11,951 ratings  ·  1,818 reviews
Ten years after 9/11, a dazzling, kaleidoscopic novel reimagines its aftermath.

A jury gathers in Manhattan to select a memorial for the victims of a devastating terrorist attack. Their fraught deliberations complete, the jurors open the envelope containing the anonymous winner's name - and discover he is an American Muslim. Instantly they are cast into roiling debate about
Paperback, 387 pages
Published 2012 by Windmill / Random House (first published 2011)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Submission, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Johnnyuma As the father of a 16 year old, I wouldn't have any issues with him reading this. It's a thought provoking, timely read. The topics you are concerned…moreAs the father of a 16 year old, I wouldn't have any issues with him reading this. It's a thought provoking, timely read. The topics you are concerned about are minimal. (less)
Kate Partial answer: There was a similar incident in real life when an Asian American woman, Maya Lin, was selected to design the Vietnam Veterans…morePartial answer: There was a similar incident in real life when an Asian American woman, Maya Lin, was selected to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It is referenced in the book when one character calls the potential controversy "another Maya Lin."
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,951 ratings  ·  1,818 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
A nation's tragedy brings out the best and the worst in its citizens. Amy Waldman places her story at the center of America's tragedy, two years after the devastation. A contest for a 9/11 memorial where the World Trade Center once stood brings to a boil all the simmering hurt and mistrust and fear about the future. What is it that causes this firestorm of media distortion and political posturing? What revelation leads to threats and accusations and even violence? Just a name. The name of the co ...more
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookgrouppick, 2011
The premise is so intriguing: What would happen if a nation-wide contest to design the 9/11 Memorial was held and the blind judging panel picked a Muslim winner?


Amy Waldman's story unravels realistically. The media churns out drivel and instigates more controversy. The panel collapse into themselves with over-thinking and uber-PC dialogue. The winner broods and employs lawyers to get a fair shake at the prestige of honoring those that were killed. The racists rally. The liberal
Sep 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This novel came in for me during the weekend of 9/11. Being the 10th anniversary of the attack, I looked forward to reading it over the weekend. I was very disappointed.

It begins two years after the September 11th attacks, and a jury has been assembled to select a WTC memorial from thousands of submissions that are anonymous. After much discussion, “The Garden” is selected. When the sealed envelope is opened the architect is revealed, a Muslim named Mohammad Khan. “Mo” as his friends call him is
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in New York City, 2 years on from the twin towers massacre. A competition is held to design a memorial for the victims. It is won by an American Moslem. One hell of a story line which runs and runs. It explores the issues from all sides. These include the victims’ families, the moslem community, politicians and the media. It is superbly written and so horribly relevant.

The book is a master class in how information can be distorted for political and other ends. Our so-called free press/media
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading this book, The Submission, a couple of days ago but wanted to take some time to think about it. If you assign ratings to books based on the emotions it elicits, then this book should definitely be assigned 5 stars. The story takes place in Manhattan a couple of years after the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001. A panel is charged with choosing a memorial from the plans which had been submitted.This process was a blind process... no names or backgrounds were given to the jury befo ...more
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I was once a New Yorker and had family members on the scene of 9/11 in NY and DC (all thankfully safe), I am not a 9/11 obsessive or fanatic (Both My Former Hometowns Were Terrorized and I All I Got Was Two Wars, the Patriot Act and This Lousy T-Shirt.) Like a low-key take on "Bonfire of the Vanities," heavy on compassion and easy on the sarcasm, Waldman's wonderful what-if tale (what if a Muslim won the 9/11 Memorial competition?) successfully explicates a kaleidiscope of viewpoints (t ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: usa
Blurbiosity overkill

Now if I had picked this one up in a bookstore it would never have carried me to the checkout. For why? For because when you look into the first few pages of a book these days, fair enough, you do expect to see not the publication details, dedication, epigraph and opening page, but first to be forced to hack your way through the choking jungle of gush, you know the style: exciting, extraordinary, exhilarating, exceptional. Thought-provoking (an absolute minimum requirement ra
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best novels I've read in years. The book is so well-plotted and thoughtful that at times I forgot it was fiction. It's set in 2003, when a committee is selecting a design for a 9/11 memorial in New York City. The competition was anonymous, and a firestorm erupts when it's learned that the winning designer was a Muslim American.

The book follows several different people: a newspaper reporter, a wealthy 9/11 widow, the chairman of the memorial committee, the Muslim architect, an
A Muslim American named Mohammad "Mo" Khan wins a blind design contest for NYC's WTC memorial? That premise alone tells Amy Waldman's debut novel is a work of fiction, but the events that swirl around the submission proves to be an all too true examination of post-9/11 America.

I found the novel to be quite reminiscent of what has been my favorite/best post-9/11 novel to-date, Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin. Both novels operate under a similar structure, a large and swirling cast of cha
I felt this book on a visceral level. It sucked me in, lit a rage fire in my belly, drove me up the wall, and broke my heart. A panoramic depiction of a series of fictional post-9/11 events, this is an important book for Americans to read. And don't let the adjective "important" trick you into thinking this is anywhere in the same universe as boring. I ripped through this motherf---er like it was HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. Recommend, recommend, recommend.
The Submission was published 10 years after 9/11. It imagines a competition for a national memorial at Ground Zero with the winning design being by a Muslim-American architect Mohammed (Mo) Khan. Khan immigrated with his parents as a child from India, grew up in a fairly secular middle class way, and got his architecture degree at Yale. He works for a very successful architectural firm with an international reputation, and enters the competition almost on a whim.

When the jurors who selected his
Teresa Lukey
Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Submission made my ten best books for 2011. It is an extremely thought provoking read that I would recommend to anyone, especially those who may be scared or ignorant of the Muslim religion.

This story takes place in 2003 NYC. They city has assembled a group of judges, who accept, and wade through, submissions for a memorial at the site of the twin towers. The group decides they do not want to know who the designer is until they have made a final decision as to which design they want to use.
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent lesson in humility. It is impossible to sit and read It smugly,at least for me. As abhorrent as many of the views and reactions of the characters were, I realized that it was difficult not to find myself rationalizing their pettiness. Reading THE SUBMISSION was uncomfortable, with characters all too familiar and human. This is a superb read.
Oct 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
I prefer novels and stories that deal with 9/11 obliquely, like Saturday by McEwan, Deborah Eisenberg's "Twilight of the Superheroes," maybe Netherland by O'Neill, and especially James Hynes's Next. So for me this was not the "9/11 novel we have been waiting for," and which Maureen Corrigan gushed about as being "poetic and polemical."

I thought Waldman's best writing was in the longer descriptive passages. There is a scene near the end in which the reader is taken back to the architect's busines
Jean Nicolazzo
Sep 29, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book on the anniversary of 9/11, based on a rave review on NPR by Maureen Corrigan. To quote: "The Submission distinguishes itself by its panoramic scope and, also, by the ease with which it pulls off the literary magic trick of being at once poetic and polemical." Uh, no. Forget the poetic, and the polemic is just confused. This book read like it had a laundry list of issues it had to cover, including class, anti-Muslim fervor in the wake of the attacks, immigration and ethnic id ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
What if the winner of the anonymous contest to design a memorial at the World Trade Center site turned out to be Muslim? "The Submission" imagines the answer to that question, and it's not pretty. Basically, it's the post 9/11 version of "The Bonfire of the Vanities", but without the snark.

Waldman does a competent job of orchestrating her nightmare scenario, which is chillingly plausible. But this story trades exclusively in stereotypes - unscrupulous reporters, the governor with higher politica
Jul 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I thought this book was thoughtful and well-written, but ultimately too schematic and idea-bound, more like a framework for debate than a novel. And many of the characters failed to rise above caricature.

Yes, it's a theme worth exploring, and it's a very courageous choice to make both the hero and the heroine somewhat dislikeable prigs - it makes the book's conundrums that much more challenging. But for a book about the most traumatic day in my city's history, it happens all in your head, nowher
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel felt so true to life that I often wondered if it had already happened. Waldman sets up a hypothesis and portrays the resulting scenarios in a frighteningly accurate way. Any possible thought or action that could be expected in such a situation is touched upon. Hearing from the different people involved allows us to gain more sympathy for the varying perspectives. At first when I realized the last chapter was set 20 years in the future, I was annoyed; it was an abrupt plot device. But ...more
Suanne Laqueur
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Holy crap, that was intense....
Jennifer Ridgway
Aug 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2011
I am going to try to do this book justice, although my ability to write a compelling book review is sadly lacking (especially considering my current profession).

It is very rare for me to have such visceral reactions while reading books. This book led to moments of deep anger, complete sadness, and some despair (occasionally so deep that I felt the emotions in the pit of my stomach). Waldman's writing is wonderful, and the storyline is compelling (and very realistic).

At first the title seems st
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When an anonymous architect's design of a 9/ 11 memorial is announced by the selecting jury and the winner is identified as a Muslim American, his selection stirs up bitter controversy across a traumatized, grieving nation. Defending Mohammad Khan's design, a memorial garden, is Claire Burwell, a widow whose husband was killed in the World Trade Center and who represents the families on the jury. However, tensions run high, and while some see the garden with its walls containing the names of the ...more
Waldman’s debut is a confident, hard-hitting contribution to the fund of post-9/11 New York stories. The Submission imagines what would have happened had New Yorkers chosen a 9/11 memorial design as soon as 2003 and – crucially – had the anonymous selection turned out to be by a Muslim architect named Mohammad Khan.

Khan’s plan is considered placid and innocuous, at least prior to the revelation of his identity. His memorial garden is rich in possible meanings and influences, with intersecting ca

2.5 Stars

I think I may have made a tactical blunder in reading Mark Helprin's dazzling, strange and surreal homage to New York City Winter's Tale immediately before tackling The Submission. I thought that aligning those two books back-to-back would provide each of them an interesting counterpoint. Alas, Amy Waldman's post-9/11 tale is a moribund, contrived hand-wringing glop-fest that never really lives up to its critical acclaim.

The idea sounded great: a jury comprised primarily of cognoscenti
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Jeanette

Not only a wonderful book, but a book lauded with some outstanding reviews, five of which I list here..... I won’t be doing a review as such. It has all been said, and so much better than I can say it.

Jeanette (Netterooski)

Teresa Lukey

Michael Leccese

Ed Z

Lisa Eckstein

(I am going to do some bare bone
A jury of eminent leaders, thinkers and artists in New York puts a call out for designs for a memorial to the victims of 9/11. They for some reason believe that the submissions should be anonymous, probably so they are not swayed by their notions of the designer, but by the pure merit of the design. There is dissent among the group who is ultimately convinced by Claire, the one 9/11 victim on the jury, that a beautiful garden provides a place for visitors to find peace as they honor the dead. An ...more
Sep 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really 4.5 stars. I read this during the week of the tenth anniversary of 9-11, and it was a fitting book to get me to think about what effect the event really had on our country.

This novel takes place two years after the 9-11 attacks. A jury has been set up to judge entries submitted for a 9-11 memorial. All entries are anonymous, and the jury is shocked when they discover that the entry they pick was created by an American named Mohammed Khan. The story is about the fallout.

The novel includes
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can’t count the times that I have been disappointed by a book with a terrific premise and a lousy execution. Many writers have excellent imaginations but lack the skills to do justice to their great ideas. Luckily, that is not the case for Amy Waldman in The Submission. From the first time I heard about the book, I wanted to find out how the author would deal with the complex concept behind the plot. I have to admit I was skeptical that Waldman, or any writer for that matter, would be able to ...more
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paul by: EW
While visiting New York City recently, I visited the 9/11 Memorial. I was moved by its simplicity and symbolism. I thought that whoever had created it had done a magnificent job of memorializing those who had died and stirring the passions of those of us who remember the day so well. But not once did I think of the process of selecting a design. Author Amy Waldman, however, did – and created a terrific story about what might have taken place during the decision-making process.

The novel, set in 2
Mikey B.
Mar 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Despite some good jolts near the end, for me, this book was a let down. It felt more like a long editorial on Islam, Islamophobia... where the various characters spout off whatever point of view the author wishes to portray.

The story centers on submissions for architectural designs for a memorial to the victims of 9/11. After the jury has made a decision on the winner they discover that the architect is named Mohammed and is a Muslim, after which all hell breaks lose. The book never veers away f
Aug 21, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The saddest thing about this book is that it seems to be accepted as a serious contribution to the dialogue in this country about post-9/11 xenophobia and the attendant deterioration of civil public discourse...instead,it's a Ripped-From-The-Headlines Pot-Boiler complete with stock "Liberal" and "Conservative"characters with all the depth of FOX/MSNBC caricatures instead of anyone who might not conform to the banality of the CableNews Playbook...very,very disappointing,especially in light of the ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Submission-How would you feel in Mo's postion? 6 68 Nov 15, 2013 07:24AM  
9/11 novels 1 20 Oct 01, 2012 11:00AM  
readers from the ...: April 2012: The Submission 2 10 May 22, 2012 08:27PM  
genre X: May Discussion: The Submission 1 18 Apr 27, 2012 09:57AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Stone Arabia
  • Lost Memory of Skin
  • Long, Last, Happy: New and Collected Stories
  • A Good Hard Look
  • A Moment in the Sun
  • The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son
  • Emily, Alone (Emily Maxwell, #2)
  • The Free World
  • The Illumination
  • The Barbarian Nurseries
  • The Grief of Others
  • The London Train
  • Faith
  • The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore
  • Kapitoil
  • This Beautiful Life
  • My New American Life
  • Rich Boy
See similar books…
Amy Waldman is the author of two novels, A Door in the Earth, which will be published August 27, 2019, and The Submission, which was a national bestseller, a PEN/Hemingway Award finalist, and the #1 Book of the Year for Entertainment Weekly and Esquire. She has received fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin, Ledig House for International Writers, the MacDowell Colony, and the Radcliffe I ...more
“[s]he was a compulsive pessimist, always looking for the soft brown spot in the fruit, pressing so hard she created it.” 35 likes
“There were in life rarely, if ever, "right" decisions, never perfect ones, only the best to be made under the circumstances.” 22 likes
More quotes…