“The Golden House: A Novel” by Salman Rushdie— An Epic of Modern America

Rushdie, Salman. “The Golden House: A Novel”, Random House, 2017.

An Epic of Modern America

Amos Lassen

On the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration as president of the United States, a mysterious billionaire from foreign shores begins living in the “the Gardens,” an “architectural jewel” in a cloistered community in New York’s Greenwich Village. The neighborhood is a bubble within a bubble, and those who were already living there become intrigued by the strange newcomer and his family. Nero Golden has brought along his three adult sons: agoraphobic, alcoholic Petya, a brilliant recluse with a tortured mind; Apu, the flamboyant artist, sexually and spiritually omnivorous and D, who is twenty-two and the baby of the family who has an explosive secret even from himself. There is no mother, no wife until Vasilisa, a sleek Russian expat, snags seventy something Nero and becomes his wife.

René, an ambitious young filmmaker is the Golden’s neighbor and he is researching a movie about the Goldens and manages to ingratiate himself into their household and is soon seduced by their mystique. He becomes implicated and involved in their quarrels, their infidelities, and their crimes. Suddenly a comic-book villain sets out on a presidential run that turns New York upside-down.

Rushdie’s novel is a “modern epic of love and terrorism, loss and reinvention—a powerful, timely story told with the daring and panache that make Salman Rushdie a force of light in our dark new age.” This is a very epic of the immigrant experience in modern America, where nothing can free a family from its past sins. 

Golden and his three sons have moved from Mumbai to New York under mysterious circumstances. He marries again and he and his new wife and sons establish their places in New York society. Rene tells us their stories .

Rushdie is a powerful novelist who is not content to stick to any sort of genre oformat within his writing. Most of us do not read Rushdie for his plots but how he relates his stories. Self-invented Nero Golden is a tycoon and a Russian oligarch whose name was everywhere in those days and “on everything from hot dogs to for-profit universities”.

Rene plots and plans his Big Film Project on Nero Golden and his three sons but he has no idea who these men are, where they came from and why they came to New York. It seems to me that this story is about metamorphoses/transition/change, and asks if it is it possible to be both good and evil. It might take you a while to read this but keep in mind as you that this is more of an experience than just a book.

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