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.
The memorial's designer is Mohammad Khan, an enigmatic, ambitious architect. His fiercest defender on the jury is its sole widow, the mediagenic Claire Burwell. But when the news of his selection leaks to the press, Claire finds herself under pressure from outraged family members and in collision with hungry journalists, wary activists, opportunistic politicians, fellow jurors, and Khan himself. 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.
Exceptional debut ... a tale of complexity and tension...Waldman's prose is almost always pitch-perfect ... The characters are wholly realised and believable as individuals, but they also stand in for stories and conflicts that go beyond their own lives.
From this coup de théâtre Waldman skilfully spins out an ever-widening cast list...This is a deeply thoughtful and moving account of the myriad ways in which, when the towers came down, the US psyche became a casualty too.
An absorbing, accomplished debut...an intelligent, satisfying read
The novel is punctuated with darkly comic details ... compelling ...Elegantly written and tightly plotted... [this] novel, at once lucid, illuminating and entertaining is a necessary gift.
Panoramic in scope but thrillingly light on its feet ... A gripping, deeply intelligent novel