AUGUSTA — The recent Boston Marathon bombings are sure to prompt similar conflict and confusion, according to Amy Waldman, whose novel “The Submission” explores the varying perceptions of American Muslims following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“I wrote the novel in an effort to explore the aftermath of 9/11, and the Boston bombings are a part of that,” Waldman, whose book is the focus of this year’s Capital Read group reading and discussion series, said in a recent interview. “We are still living in confusion and fear about what, or whom, we are in conflict with. And with each of these attacks or attempted attacks, American Muslims brace themselves, because they know they may be accused or judged — at best implicitly, sometimes worse — along with the perpetrators.”

Waldman will discuss her book Tuesday in both a group book discussion at 1:30 p.m. at Lithgow Public Library and an author’s presentation at 7 p.m. in Jewett Hall at the University of Maine at Augusta.

The book is about the public and political reaction that follows a jury’s choice of a memorial for the victims of a devastating terrorist attack in Manhattan, and then the revelation that the memorial’s anonymous designer is an American Muslim.

“I was trying to get at how that felt, but also the grief that becomes a permanent part of life for the victims or their families,” Waldman said.

Lithgow Public Library Director Elizabeth Pohl said the book already deals with a provocative subject, but the recent attacks in Boston make it more timely.


Authorities have identified the brothers suspected in the recent bombings — one dead, the other captured and alive — as Muslim.

“It’s an interesting book discussing important stuff,” Pohl said. “It’s very provocative and a great basis for conversations, and it’s obviously some timely subject matter. People are still feeling pretty raw about the bombing in Boston.”

Waldman is a Brooklyn, N.Y., resident and former New York Times reporter who covered the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She also has been a national correspondent for The Atlantic.

“I’ve witnessed many fascinating, and occasionally heated, discussions around ‘The Submission,’ and I know that many book groups have had similar conversations of their own,” she said. “Readers argue about who’s right and wrong; whether Mohammad Khan, the Muslim-American architect at the heart of the book, should persist in his quest to have his design built or give up; and much more. It’s a novel that seems to arouse strong emotions.”

The book roughly mirrors what happened on 9/11, but isn’t specifically labeled as being about that actual attack.

“As a fiction writer, I wanted the freedom to invent details — a fictional governor, for example — without being constrained by history,” Waldman said. “And I felt that we have all used phrases like ‘9/11’ and ‘ground zero’ so many times, and re-experienced the event through media so many times, that using it explicitly would be at odds with the imaginative territory a novel ought to operate in.”


Pohl said she’s heard Waldman is a wonderful speaker and is excited about the Augusta events. She anticipates the author will talk about her book, the reactions to it and her writing process, and that she will answer questions.

Pohl has a question of her own for the author.

“Personally, I’d like to know if she’s going to write another book,” Pohl said.

A Capital Read started seven years ago, Pohl said, as a way to deepen the appreciation of literature and bring people together. The events are sponsored by The Friends of Lithgow Library and are all free and open to the public.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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