The Golden House

The Golden House

A Novel

Book - 2017
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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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2017]
Edition: First Edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780399592805
Branch Call Number: Fic Rush
Characteristics: 380 pages ; 25 cm


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Nov 07, 2019

Has anyone noticed the since Salman Rushdie started residing in America, his novels have decidedly changed. At times I even wonder if it is the same man? However, the wit and rapid fire connections to the current world are still there. This is the first novel that I have read that describes well America with Trump as president: "the molester screaming about molestation, the propagandist accusing the whole world of propaganda, the bully whining about being ganged up on, the crook pointing a crooked finger at his rival and calling her crooked, a child’s game become the national ugliness, I-know-I-am-but-what-are-you, and the days ticking away. America’s sanity at war with its dementedness, and people like me, …walking around with their hands in their pockets and their fingers crossed." And: "The world of what reality had begun to mean in America, which was to say, a kind of radical untruth, phoniness, garishness, bigotry, vulgarity, violence, paranoia, and looking down upon it all from his dark tower, a creature with white skin". Rushdie's narrator here is a film maker, so you will have many, many film references. This recalls my favorite Rushdie novel, "The Ground Beneath her Feet," except that was about the rock music scene at the time, and this book's references concern movies and, refreshingly, comic books. In fact, the only problem with his otherwise incisive Trump critiques is his insistence on identification with the Joker. As wild as that old-as-Batman super villain is, he does have some class, strange as it is, and has famously been used by some suffering mental illness as a kind of motif for homicide. Setting that aside, Rushdie's narrator incisevly ruminates on current life difficulties. "Like many young men I was a secret from myself and from those who loved me, and before all was done those secrets would have to be revealed." They are revealed as he explores for a film a wealthy immigrant family, each member a story only possible to set in current America. As always, Rushdie can be philosophical: "If human nature were not a mystery, we’d have no need of poets." But, utilizing a wonderful comic book analogy, he leaves us with America's and the world's current dilemma, its presidency: "We have to learn how to trick Mr. Mxyztplk into saying his name backwards so that he disappears back into the fifth dimension and the world feels sane again. And we have to engage with ourselves and understand how we became so fucking weak and apathetic and how to retool and dive back into the battle. Who are we now? Who the fuck even knows." I can't imagine this great line appearing in Rushdie's pre-America novels. Maybe in Trump's ceaseless tweeting, he'll say his name backwards.

SCL_Justin Nov 05, 2018

This was a less magical Rushdie book than many of his, more like Fury than Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty‑Eight Nights, which wasn't by itself a bad thing. But the fact that it was set in 2008-2017 made the politics of the Orange Hategibbon a big part of the later stages of the story, which affected me. I don't always read for escapism, but I do need to be able to get away from that monstrosity in my fiction.

By the end it worked out all right (better than the real world has) but it was a hard one for me. I did appreciate the thoughtful way Rushdie is dealing with identity politics, which are the hallmark of a younger generation than his. He doesn't just dismiss them, and the characters who are dealing with them do so thoughtfully, even if they aren't coming up with answers that fit the world as seen on Twitter.

So I think it was a good book, an important book for those who think that how individuals deal with the politics of their day is important, not necessarily being right and throwing the rest of the world in a garbage fire.

Oct 07, 2018

Brilliant story telling, highly recommended. Rushdie entertains us while asking us if synderesis IS an innate ability of the human mind to realize basic principles of human ethics. Does it direct every man, to good and restrain him from evil ?

Jun 28, 2018

Brilliant writing, satirical, vast in its reach - Greek mythology, classic movies and their directors, 20th century American pop music, Indian culture and politics, iconic New York City locations and happenings, Trump's America and the list goes on. He handled all of this with mastery, great writing, weaving it all seamlessly into the story line. Fun to read, thought-provoking.

Mar 18, 2018

Of all Salman Rushidie's novels, this is the one that i find most basic, to the extent of being Americanily ordinary, as a down to earth story. It doesn't feel like it is Rushidie, except in very rare little bits, being overtly straight forward and blunt; here he does not challenge you to labor in thought, nor does he wow you off, it is just a great story. If you have always feared to read Salman Rushidie, this is for you, the matter of fact written "The Golden House" that will dispel all the fears, magic and demons of his "Shame" or "The Satanic Verses', "Midnight Children", "The Ground beneath her feet" and my favorite "The Moors' last Sigh".

suzannethomas Feb 23, 2018

The Golden House

This is the first book I’ve read by Salmon Rushdie. I expected it to be dark and satirical, which it is, but I didn’t expect it to be so laugh out loud funny! I love the larger than life characters and how their stories are woven into current events, blending fact and fiction. Similar reads include The Dinner by Herman Koch, Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-five.

Feb 19, 2018

An eminent author like Salman Rushdie writes books to tell more than just a story. So why did he write this book? The author is an expatriate Indian now living in New York. The Golden House is a tale about the devolution of the United States from a time of false hope with the election of Barack Obama to the horror of the new Joker president who represents the debasement of common decency and the depreciation of knowledge and learning. There are many themes: reinvention of self, excessive navel gazing in search of “identity", the corrupting influence of Russia, movies as better representations of and escape from reality, the attack on free speech, celebration of the vulgar and bizarre. Rushdie’s dismay at what is happening in his adopted country runs throughout the book. Yet the author clings to hope for the future in the reconciliation, conflagration, and “rebirth” that comes at the end.

Feb 14, 2018

I thoroughly enjoyed this brilliant novel. The characters are complex, unusual, and highly varied, perhaps a bit extreme but certainly interesting. The book is rich in description, allusion and references (which in my case, not being an English Lit major, required frequent use of Wikipedia to appreciate). The setting is very contemporary, and for the most part very American, occasionally dealing with current “hot topics” of political and social interest, always in an intelligent and thought provoking way, which given the present situation, can be quite disquieting. While many of the events are dramatic in the extreme, the core issues that are ultimately raised are universal and very human.

Jan 19, 2018

Rich, but unsatisfying

A man of extreme wealth immigrates from Mumbai to Manhattan along with his three adult sons. They change their identities and keep the reason for leaving their previous home a mystery though they don't live like recluses, just the opposite, they embrace their new homeland with excess and extravagance.

The Golden House is about this family and the unraveling of their mystery as told by a neighbour, a film maker, who takes an interest in them because he hopes their story will provide the plot for a movie he wants to make.

Rushdie's characters are larger than life, and I mean down right over the top. Indeed, there are no ordinary people in this novel, every one is eccentric, brilliant, extremely talented, very well dressed and beautiful beyond description though Rushdie does his best to describe all the above lavishly and extensively.
In fact he spends so much time on sumptuous imagery, on references to Greek mythology and on quotes that might make sense if I knew author of the quote and the context in which it was being used, I very soon became bored and early on found my self skimming pages to find something that advanced the plot.

The Golden House is an "insiders" book. If the reader knows the locales, events, jargon, trends, author of quotes, context of quotes, the heroes and heroines of Greek mythology and their significance then I imagine you're supposed to feel included, with it, up to date, part of the club, and oh so contemporary. If you don't you're a boob, a rube, a member of the cultural lumpenproletariat and don't deserve to know what's going in his book.

Rushdie obviously is an excellent, clever, educated, intelligent, sophisticated member of the upper crust of society and he sets out to prove that in every paragraph of this book.

The writing is so rich, so decadent I felt the same way I did when during the Holidays I overindulged in Christmas cake, shortbread and mince tarts - well fed, yet ironically, unsatisfied.

Keeping with my New Year's resolution of not enduring to the end books I'm not enjoying, I abandoned The Golden House about a quarter way through.

Jan 03, 2018

Beautiful prose, as usual, but plot, not so compelling. It was just messy, melodramatic, and meandered too much for my taste. Not what I am used to with Rushdie.

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