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The Golden House: A Novel by Salman Rushdie
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The Golden House: A Novel (2017)

by Salman Rushdie

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
There's no one quite like Sir Salman. This was an absolute joy from start to finish. Contrary to what I had thought, The Golden House (or gilded cage) is not simply a satire on Trump, but a glorious Rushdiyan tragedy where every thought references some delicious piece of popular culture from points throughout history. In fact Trump appears only as a background distraction.

Rushdie is having enormous fun even while his characters are wrestling with weight and fate. In one memorable paragraph, Rushdie gets from classical Greek myth to The Tempest via a complete lyric from Lieber and Stoller's "Stand By Me". When an author is having this much fun, it doesn't always translate into fun for the reader. Not so here. The Golden House is everything I could have hoped for from a Salman Rushdie novel, which is to say everything anyone could ever hope for from a work of new fiction. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
As usual with a Rushdie novel, It was a slow read because I savored and sighed over every sentence. I also love his storytelling flair and ability to Pied Piper readers through the Rushdie world that mixes reality, myth and folktales, both old (Baba Yaga) and new (Batman). It feels like his own style of magical realism, where we simultaneously inhabit the multiple worlds of New York City, Gotham and Metropolis.

‘Golden’ is the operative word for me with this book - his extreme empathy for his characters casts a golden glow over the story, especially his main characters - Rene, the Nick Carraway style narrator/observer, Petya the high functioning autistic brother (“A mind imprisoned by itself, serving a life sentence”), Apu the playboy artist (“he ran voraciously through the city, embracing it all like a young Whitman”), and gender confused D (“running from the thing he knew he was moving toward”). Even Nero, the aging gangster tycoon gets a Lear-like sympathy. I think Rushdie falters though, when it comes to female characters. They’re all beautiful, extraordinarily talented - and one dimensional. The exception is Vasilisa, although he’s still suckered by a pretty face - the only way he can attribute evil to her is through a Baba Yaga metaphor.

Golden House is stuffed full of references and allusions to everything high low or medium brow, from ancient Greek tragedy to Mr. Bean. In anyone else’s hands this could be pedantic, but for me it’s a pleasure to follow a mind so in love with ideas. This intellectualism, combined with a story set in a small, highly privileged corner of Manhattan, (in his own words, “cocooned in liberal downtown silk”) leaves this novel open to criticisms of elitism - which Rushdie acknowledges - with a quote from Adorno ;)

In addition to all the above, Golden House is, last but hardly least, a full-on assault on Trumpism, especially it’s anti-intellectual posturing. In contrast to the golden glow he casts on his fictional characters, Rushdie can’t even bring himself to make (the unnamed) Trump a human, and depicts him as The Joker run amuck in Batman’s Gotham City. These sections feel like they were written just yesterday - in fact, I had the the tragically uncanny experience of reading a scene that mentioned a Manhattan bike path on the very day that it was hit by a terrorist attack, killing 8 and injuring 11.
( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
As my first foray into Salman Rushdie's ouevre this was not a great success. I thought there was just too much going on in the story and I don't think I grasped the overall message. Perhaps listening to it as an audiobook was not the right choice.

The story revolves around a mysterious family of a father and three sons who moves into a house in Greenwich Village in New York City. The father says his name is Nero Golden and his three sons all have Roman names. A neighbour, Rene, is the narrator of the story. He is a film director and he thinks the Golden family would make a great film so he wants to get to know them. This he does; in fact he becomes quite close to all of them. When Nero falls in love with a beautiful Russian woman Rene is right there. Later the woman, who becomes Nero's wife, wants to have a child but Nero is not able to produce enough sperm. So Nero's wife approaches Rene to have sex with her during her ovulations and she does become pregnant but then doesn't want to have anything to do with Rene after or to let Rene have a relationship with his son. Each of Nero's first three sons have issues of their own. The youngest is confused about his gender identity and is considering becoming a transgender woman. The oldest suffers from agoraphobia and can't set foot out of the house but he is a brilliant computer game developer. The middle son is an artist who misses their home city (which is finally revealed to be Mumbai, India).

So there are all these various stories being explored by Rene for his film but he also has a story of his own which intrudes. By the end of the book Rene may be the only one to make it out unscathed or at least functioning. It's obvious that the Golden family stands in for the Roman Empire which fell catastrophically. Possibly the Roman Empire is a stand in for the United States and Rushdie is predicting its fall. He does allude to the 2016 election with the presidential candidates being The Joker and Batgirl. I did rather like that part of the book. ( )
  gypsysmom | Mar 5, 2019 |
I seriously should have never finished this book. But Salman Rushdie is a well known author and I had never read any of his works.

So, I liked the plot and I liked the unique and diverse characters. What I didn't like was the writing style and the philosophizing. If a writer wants to be philosophical, slide it in so that the reader barely knows that's what's being done. I also felt like he said in 30 words what could be said in 10.

Having said that, I am impressed with Rushdie's breadth of knowledge, including his wide vocabulary. ( )
  kayanelson | Oct 2, 2018 |
Salman Rushdie has become another of my favorite authors. His detailed and mysterious characters all have stories too intense, too interesting, and all with splashes of humor. While he has something of a reputation as a writer of dense and obscure fiction, his last ten or so novels were all written with details that leave absolutely nothing left un-said or un-described. His latest novel, The Golden House, maintains his marvelous and intriguing prose style.

As the dust jacket notes, “On the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, an enigmatic billionaire from an [unidentified] foreign shore and takes up residence in the architectural jewel of ‘the Gardens,’ a cloistered community in New York’s Greenwich Village.” Of course, the neighbors are fascinated. His chosen, new world name is Nero Golden, and his three sons have adopted names of other Roman figures, Apu—from Lucius Apuleius, Dionysus prefers, “D,” and Petronius, takes the nickname, Petya. Each of these three men take turns unraveling the mystery of this family.

Rushdie also weaves lots of references to a whole slew of literary and real characters ranging from Anton Chekhov to George Clooney. Here is a sample of what is in store for the intrepid reader. “That night he talked and drank without stopping, and all of us who were there would carry fragments of that talk in our memories for the rest of our lives. What crazy, extraordinary talk it was! No limit to the subjects he reached for and used as punching bags: the British royal family, in particular the lives of Princess Margaret, who used a Caribbean island as her private boudoir, and Prince Charles, who wanted to be his lover’s toy; the philosophy of Spinoza (he liked it); the lyrics of Bob Dylan (he recited the whole of ‘Sad-eyed Lady of the Lowlands,’ as reverently as if it were a companion piece to ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’; the Spassky-Fischer chess match (Fischer had died the year before); Islamic radicalism (he was against it) and wishy-washy liberalism (which appeased Islam, he said, so he was against it too); […] the novels of G.K. Chesterton (he was a fan of The Man Who was Thursday); the unpleasantness of male chest hair; the ‘unjust treatment ‘ of Pluto, recently demoted to the status of ‘dwarf planet’ after a larger body, Eris, was discovered in the Kuiper Belt” (48-49). This is about two-thirds of the list of his topics.

Nero had some unspecified plans for the future. Rushdie writes, “Nero had hired the most powerful members of the city’s tribe of publicists, whose most important task was not to get, but to suppress, publicity; and so what happened in the Golden House very largely stayed in the Golden House” (52). One son is something of a loose cannon. Rushdie writes, “D Golden, when in his brothers’ company, alternated between ingratiation and rage. It was plain that he needed to love and be loved; there was a tide of emotion in him that needed to wash over people and he hoped for a returning tide to wash over him. […] Sometimes he seemed wise beyond his years. At other times he behaved like a four-year-old child” (67).

Salman Rushdie is an amazingly talented writer who can sweep a reader along on fantastic waves of literature, philosophy, history, and politics, while never forgetting to smile. His latest novel, The Golden House has from me, a solid 5 stars

--Chiron, 4/10/18 ( )
  rmckeown | Apr 25, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Salman Rushdie De familie Golden beschrijft de ondergang van een rijke familie in het huidige Amerikaanse tijdsgewricht. Pater familias en multi-miljonair Nero Golden is met zijn drie zoon neergestreken in New York. Ze zijn India, min of meer, ontvlucht nadat zijn vrouw bij een terroristische aanslag in een hotel in Mumbai, India is vermoord. Onder schuilnamen hebben ze zich gevestigd in een groot huis in New York…lees verder >
 
Whether by design, chance, or oracular divination, Salman Rushdie has managed, within a year of the 2016 election, to publish the first novel of the Trumpian Era. On purely technical merits this is an astounding achievement, the literary equivalent of Katie Ledecky lapping the Olympic field in the 1500-meter freestyle. The publishing industry still operates at an aristocratic pace; Egypt built the new Suez Canal in less time than it typically takes to convert a finished manuscript into a hardcover. As a point of comparison, the first novel to appear about September 11, Windows on the World, by the French author Frédéric Beigbeder, was not published until August 2003. Yet less than eight months into the administration, Rushdie has produced a novel that, if not explicitly about the president, is tinged a toxic shade of orange.
 
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"When the aristocratic Golden family moves into a self contained pocket of New York City, a park in Greenwich Village called "The Gardens," their past is an absolute mystery. They seem to be hiding in plain sight: Nero Golden, the powerful but shady patriarch, and his sons Petya, a high functioning autistic and recluse; Apu, the successful artist who may or may not be profound; and D, the enchanting youngest son whose gender confusion mirrors the confusion - and possibilities - of the world around him. And finally there is Vasilisa, the Russian beauty who seduces the patriarch to shape their American stories. Our fearless narrator is an aspiring filmmaker who decides the Golden family will be his subject. He gains the trust of this strange family, even as their secrets gradually unfold - love affairs and betrayals, questions of belonging and identity, a murder, an apocalyptic terror attack, a magical, stolen baby, all set against a whirling background in which an insane Presidential Candidate known as only The Joker grows stronger and stronger, and America itself grows mad. And yet The Golden House is a hopeful story, even an inspiring one - a story about the hope that surrounds, and is made brighter by, even the darkest of situations. Overflowing with inventiveness, humor, and a touch of magic, this is a full-throated celebration of human nature, a great American novel, a tale of exile wrapped in a murder mystery, a meditation on the nature of good and evil, a thrilling page turner, and a coming of age story for the ages"--… (more)

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