Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

In an established neighborhood in New York City, a new family moves into a fabulous mansion.  They are the Goldens who are immigrants from abroad, maybe India, maybe the Middle East, the residents are not quite sure.  The father, Nero, is an obviously successful and powerful man even if his story is shrouded in mystery.  He has moved here with his three sons.  Petya is a brilliant man who is crippled by his insecurities and is rarely seen outside the house.  Apu is an artist and quickly makes his mark in artistic circles, knowing and loving everyone and anyone.  D is the youngest son, a half-brother to Petya and Apu.  He is racked by doubts about his identity and what course his life should take.

Rene is a resident of the neighborhood.  He is a young would-be filmmaker who has grown up there.  He is fascinated by the Golden family and decides to make a movie about them.  When his own parents are killed in an accident, he is invited into the Golden house and soon learns many of their secrets.  When Nero meets and marries an enigmatic Russian immigrant, Vasilia, Rene is right there and sees the same things about her that worry the sons.  

As the years go by, more secrets and tragedies unfold, not only for the family but in the country.  Those who live in this Greenwich Village neighborhood are typically liberal and they bemoan the direction the country is taking after the administration of President Obama.  Some are blase about the election; others see the conservative candidate as a madman who has evil intentions.  The Golden family also starts to unwind as ill events happen to them and their innate inclinations lead them on to tragedy. 

Salman Rushdie is one of today's most prominent novelists and any new novel by him is a joy.  This parable documents the path America is taking as seen through the eyes of the New York intelligentsia.  There are references to Greek mythology and topics such as sexual identity, the autistic spectrum, the film industry, the tragedy of wealth and the ability to reinvent oneself are explored.  Some have called this novel a modern Bonfire Of The Vanities and it was an Amazon Best Book of September 2017.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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