Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dear Great Book Guru, This is such a somber week with its many memorials and programs about 9/11. While I am planning on attending the service in front of the Children's Library this Sunday at 7pm, I would also like to read something that would help me understand what happened then and what is happening now. Do you have suggestions? A Concerned Citizen

Dear Concerned Citizen, Yes, an air of sadness permeates this week and while there are many, many books and documentaries to help us understand and remember, I was particularly moved by a novel that came out last month: THE SUBMISSION by Amy Waldman. Waldman tells a riveting tale: two years after the 9/11 attacks, New York City has commissioned a jury to choose a design for a memorial and from 5000 anonymous entries, the architect chosen is a young, urbane American whose name is Mohammad Khan, a Muslim. Islam, art, grief, politics, guilt, greed, and media all play roles in the unfolding story, but the author 's storytelling talent reaches its zenith in the development of her main characters: Mo, the architect, Claire, the widow panelist who represents the families of the victims, Geraldine Bitman, the first woman governor of New York who sees her political aspirations riding on this issue, Paul Rubin, a wealthy financier who wants to do the right thing as long as he is not inconvenienced, Asma, a young Bangladeshi woman whose husband was a 9/11 victim, illegally in this country, Laila, an attractive Pakistani lawyer who represents Mo, and Sean Gallagher, a young man filled with anger and guilt over his brother's death in the Twin Towers. The picture Waldman paints of the media frenzy and machinations of a multitude of special interest groups is not pretty but one senses it is very accurate. Highly recommended!

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