Friday, September 8, 2017

#BookReview: The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

On the jacket:

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.


I had a really hectic time last week and in the middle of it all, I'd started reading Salman Rushdie's The Golden House. With too many deadlines looming on my head, rarely does it happen that I can give undivided attention to any book even if I am reading only at bedtime. With this book, what happened is that I read the first chapter and was hooked. I wanted to know more. Mainly because the story seemed to be set in a very interesting time. This was a refreshing thing because every other attempt I've made of reading Rushdie had been exhausting and I've struggled with the process.

The Golden House begins with President Obama's inauguration ceremony. It is a story narrated by filmmaker René and is about Nero Golden and his sons. That explains the title of the book. The story starts slow and while I was getting overwhelmed and exhausted at places, it did manage to pull me in. 

The Golden family starts living next to René and what  I specifically loved was how distinctly the characters were defined. This made me stop and places and mull over characterisation since I happen to be studying about character sketches in my free time, these days. When I say reading the book however enjoyable, was exhausting for me, is because Rushdie is his masterful ways, has included everything from sexual identity, to migration, politics, art, culture, literature to autism to more nuances of life. Some of these required a little bit of googling for me, to understand exactly what the author is indicating, and might be the same for some other readers too.

René narrates the story about the Golden family and their troubles, hoping to find or create out of all the happenings. Being a film-maker, he had an eye for stories. A family of immigrants with nothing known of their past, they are rich beyond imagination and all of they are very secretive. That it is set in modern times made the story more interesting, however Rushdie's style of writing is not easy to follow. The story is of course well-written and as I said in the beginning, has the capability of pulling one in.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative, keep posting such good articles, it really helps to know about things.


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