Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Attack & Waldman's The Submission

Here's the latest about this tragic event from the New York Times:
Boston Marathon Blasts Kill 3 and Maim Dozens
Two powerful bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon, killing three people, maiming dozens and transforming one of this city’s most cherished rites of spring from a scene of cheers and sweaty triumph to one of screams, bloody carnage and death.
Some three-quarters of the 23,000 runners who participated in the race had already crossed the finish line when a bomb that had apparently been placed in a garbage can exploded in a haze of smoke amid a crowd of spectators on Boylston Street, just off Copley Square in the heart of the city. It was around 2:50 p.m., more than four hours after the race had started, officials said. Within seconds, another bomb exploded several hundred yards away.
Understandably, the last thing most people will want to do after yesterday's events is read a novel about an attack. But for those who do want to reflect on what happened by delving into a good book, I chose one that focuses on how America is dealing with the after-effects of 9/11. The book is The Submission by Amy Waldman and here's the description:
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 the claims of grief, the ambiguities of art, and the meaning of Islam. Their conflicted response is only a preamble to the country’s.
The memorial’s designer is an enigmatic, ambitious architect named Mohammad Khan. His fiercest defender on the jury is its sole widow, the self-possessed and mediagenic Claire Burwell. But when the news of his selection leaks to the press, she finds herself under pressure from outraged family members and in collision with hungry journalists, wary activists, opportunistic politicians, fellow jurors, and Khan himself—as unknowable as he is gifted. In the fight for both advantage and their ideals, all will bring the emotional weight of their own histories to bear on the urgent question of how to remember, and understand, a national tragedy.

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