When powerful real-estate tycoon Nero Golden immigrates to the States under mysterious circumstances, he and his three adult children assume new identities, taking 'Roman' names, and move into a grand mansion in downtown Manhattan. Arriving shortly after the inauguration of Barack Obama, he and his sons, each extraordinary in his own right, quickly establish themselves at the apex of New York society.
The story of the powerful Golden family is told from the point of view of their Manhattanite neighbour and confidant, René, an aspiring filmmaker who finds in the Goldens the perfect subject. René chronicles the undoing of the house of Golden: the high life of money, of art and fashion, a sibling quarrel, an unexpected metamorphosis, the arrival of a beautiful woman, betrayal and murder, and far away, in their abandoned homeland, some decent intelligence work.
Invoking literature, pop culture, and the cinema, Rushdie spins the story of the American zeitgeist over the last eight years, hitting every beat: the rise of the birther movement, the Tea Party, Gamergate and identity politics; the backlash against political correctness; the ascendency of the superhero movie, and, of course, the insurgence of a ruthlessly ambitious, narcissistic, media-savvy villain wearing make-up and with coloured hair.
In a new world order of alternative truths, Salman Rushdie has written the ultimate novel about identity, truth, terror and lies. A brilliant, heartbreaking realist novel that is not only uncannily prescient but shows one of the world’s greatest storytellers working at the height of his powers.
Whereas I've struggled with his work before, this novel really worked for me. I read it in a day and am still thinking about it! S, without any further ado, here we go!Whereas I've struggled with some of Rushdie's books before, this novel really worked for me. Something clicked and I read it in a day. It's really the kind of novel that lingers in your mind for a long time. But, without any further ado, let's get to the business of the day!
'On the day of the new president's inauguration, when we worried that eh might be murdered as he walked hand in hand with his exceptional wife among the cheering crowd, and when so many of us were close to economic ruin in the aftermath of the bursting of the mortgage bubble, and when Isis was still an Egyptian mother-goddess, an uncrowned seventy-something king from a faraway country arrived in New York City with his three motherless sons to take possession of the palace of his exile, behaving as if nothing was wrong with the country or the world or his own story.' 1%One hell of an opening line, no? Once I read this sentence I realised what kind of novel I was about to read, one steeped in today, one tightly embroiled with the current events of the last decade or so, and one with an intricately woven story. I wasn't wrong.
'I felt like a fool - worse than a fool, like an errant child, guilty of a great naughtiness and fearing adult retribution - and there was nobody to talk to. For the first time in my life I felt some appreciation for the Catholic device of the confessional and the forgiveness of Hod that followed it.' 56%It was so difficult to find a right teaser for this one because everything looked like a spoiler to me in this passage. But this one gives you a good idea of Rushdie's writing in The Golden House, directly to the reader and almost confessional at times.
So, what do you think of The Golden House? Does it seem like your cup of tea? And have you read any of Salman Rushdie's other works?