The Golden House

Random. Sept. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9780399592805. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780399592812. F
OrangeReviewStarMust one's past always inform the present? Can a man avoid karma? Is the United States still a haven for reinventing oneself? Booker and Whitbread Award winner Rushdie (Midnight's Children) poses these and other conundrums in a novel grounded in historical fact yet rife with Rushdie's signature imaginative prowess. The Gardens, a cloistered neighborhood in New York's Greenwich Village, represents a microcosm of our world as it appeared after the 2008 financial meltdown. Narrator Rene is a struggling filmmaker in search of a subject. When the inscrutable Nero Golden and his three sons arrive from Mumbai to take up residence in their palatial home fronting the Gardens, they appear pleased to oblige. Rene insinuates himself into the lives of agoraphobic Petya, artist Apu, and Dionysus, the gender-fluid youngest of the brothers. Over an eight- year span, Rene follows and films the enigmatic Goldens as they struggle to attain the American dream, eventually compromising his objectivity through a risky sexual liaison. Though the story is Shakespearean in its tragic elements, Rushdie manages to have fun with his readers, showcasing his cultural erudition with multiple references to music, film, and literature.
VERDICT Expanding upon the interpretation of the personal as political, Rushdie should garner even more readers with this cautionary tale of the long reach of terrorism and the demise of the American ideal. [See Prepub Alert, 3/8/17.]
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