Memory Games

A new novel explores the fraught fate of Ground Zero

Mark Peterson / Redux

Amy Waldman's debut novel, the submission, imagines the selection process of the World Trade Center memorial. A better world may exist in which that process would elicit not a novel but rather an amiable memo. Our world, however, is one in which memorials must be bitterly controversial, held hostage to warring constituencies and ultimately designed by committee.

The Maya Lin of Waldman's tale is Mohammad Khan, an ambitious young architect who designs a garden that wins the anonymous competition by one very emotional vote. But after his name is leaked to the press, the aesthetic disagreements within the jury give way...

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