Thursday, March 1, 2012

what was I thinking?

There is no way I can read 200 books in a year. What was I thinking. I feel like I've done nothing but read for the last month (as my laundry pile proves) and yet Goodreads tells me I am 22 books (11%) behind my goal.

That is a lot of percents. Maybe I will start reading shorter books. Do backs of cereal boxes count?

The best book I've read so far has been The Submission, by Amy Waldman. It's great. It checks all my literary boxes: American perceptions of Islam, post 9-11 politicking, inscrutable characters you want to thwomp because they just don't GET it, and cairns. Which is my new favorite word.

Here's the cliffnotes of my review over on Goodreads, in case you, too, like cairns:

The SubmissionThe Submission by Amy Waldman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The Submission" is about all kinds of submissions. The first is a design submission for a 9-11 memorial, the winning submission, which turns out to have been submitted by a Muslim. The second submission is the place of Islam -- which in Arabic literally means "submission" -- in America, and the related debate that the winning memorial designer inadvertently launches. The third submission is how characters submit or not to this debate and its repercussions. This cast of characters ranges across the political and religious spectrums, from grieving 9-11 family members, to politicians on the make, to ambitious reporters, to a Bangladeshi widow living illegally in New York with her own secret. Dum dum DUMMM!

I wish I could give this book 4.5 stars. I can tell it's a linger-er that will stay with me. Both the characters and the ideas will, I think, take up permanent space in my brain. But the plot was a bit slow-moving, and I wonder if to someone with different political beliefs would think it unfairly caricaturing. (I'd love to know!) From my perspective, even the distasteful characters had really wonderful depth and richly-painted motives.

It's not a cheerful book. But it is an excellent book, well-written, intelligent, and evocative. Forget The Scarlet Letter - this is what kids should be reading in high school.

View all my reviews

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