The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

I almost wrote happy Monday, then realized it was Tuesday, which is better than yesterday when I thought it was Tuesday. I don’t know what happened this weekend, but I got all sorts of confused yesterday when trying to order soup from Panera and they told me it was Monday. Book hangover, I’m willing to bet. But that’s okay, because it’s a book hangover from this particular book that I’m willing to get drunk over again and again.



Title: The Golden House {380 pgs.}

Genre: General Fiction {can I say All Too Realistic Fiction?}

Publication Date: September 5, 2017


When powerful real-estate tycoon Nero Golden immigrates to the States under mysterious circumstances, he and his three adult children assume new identities, taking ‘Roman’ names, and move into a grand mansion in downtown Manhattan. Arriving shortly after the inauguration of Barack Obama, he and his sons, each extraordinary in his own right, quickly establish themselves at the apex of New York society.

The story of the powerful Golden family is told from the point of view of their Manhattanite neighbour and confidant, René, an aspiring filmmaker who finds in the Goldens the perfect subject. René chronicles the undoing of the house of Golden: the high life of money, of art and fashion, a sibling quarrel, an unexpected metamorphosis, the arrival of a beautiful woman, betrayal and murder, and far away, in their abandoned homeland, some decent intelligence work.

Invoking literature, pop culture, and the cinema, Rushdie spins the story of the American zeitgeist over the last eight years, hitting every beat: the rise of the birther movement, the Tea Party, Gamergate and identity politics; the backlash against political correctness; the ascendancy of the superhero movie, and, of course, the insurgence of a ruthlessly ambitious, narcissistic, media-savvy villain wearing make-up and with coloured hair.

Can I just…take all the time in the world to tell everyone how much I loved this book? Not only for the Golden storyline, but for the background that molds the Goldens into who they are. Although none of the Goldens are active in the political scene of America, everything that happens back there affects at least one of the Goldens.

So. How to best explain this? René, a young filmmaker who lives with his loving parents in the idyllic {almost too fake} Gardens, falls in love with the Goldens from the moment they move in across the way. They’re fascinating, four men with fake names taken from the highest echelons in Rome. We watch as Nero, the patriarch, slowly descends into madness and confusion, while his children – Apu, Petya, and D – grow into themselves and understand who they want to be, even if they don’t always want to understand. Each Golden boy has his own problem to deal with, whether that be women, work, the world outside, or themselves. When Nero’s past catches up with him, no one in the Golden family is safe, including his young Russian wife, Vasilisa, and their new golden child Vespa.

That’s the main part of the story. Then there’s everything happening outside of the Golden mansion. There is the presidency of Barack Obama and the rise of the people who screamed themselves hoarse for a birth certificate. There’s the little boys who had nothing better to do with their lives than get online and threaten violence on women for playing games. There’s the sudden influx of superhero movies and the lack of heroes in real life. Then, finally, there’s the rise of the Joker, a political opponent with green hair and unnaturally colored skin, a man who says whatever he wants {including talking about grabbing women in a certain spot} and a few select people in America fall all over themselves for his stupidity.

Then there’s the other thread weaved into the story, the scarlet thread of Vasilisa and her determination to have a Golden child so she can be protected for life.

Salman Rushdie weaves these narratives so expertly that you begin to wonder if maybe, just maybe, there’s a Nero Golden out there, waiting for someone to realize that he’s not fiction. The motley crew of characters are strange and almost otherworldly, but in this world right now, they almost make sense. Also, there were moments where I began to think that maybe Nero Golden and the Joker could have been the same person, if only Nero didn’t have a slight conscience.

I was going to share some of my favorite quotes, but really, I highlighting way too many parts of this book to pick just one. This is just the book I needed since, oh, I don’t know, November 2016. It took me forever to write this review because I thought over it for days, because there was so much I wanted to say, but I didn’t know how to get it out without being like, okay, let me tell you about this book from the first word to the last. But it’s out now, so please, please, please, go get it. Some parts are difficult to read – because we’ve lived through those parts – but they’re necessary. Oh so necessary.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s