The Golden House by Salman Rushdie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this ARC!
I've always had Rushdie in my rear-view mirror it seems. He keeps cropping up everywhere and I always meant to read Satanic Verses for the big hubbub it made back in the day. You know, the whole assassination thing. And yet, I never actually got a round to reading him.
And then, out of the blue, I see a chance. Netgalley. I jumped on it and was pleasantly surprised to get it. And then I read my very first Rushdie.
Expectations are a tricky thing. I rather thought I was going to get a heavy literary novel full of references and mythology bubbling beneath the circus, if not surface, of the text. What I got was exactly that, but more-so, because I was engrossed in something so very readable and enjoyable that I never once had to really WORK at it. You know?
All the references myth were telegraphed as loudly as a classic Russian novel, the basic themes as loud as Bollywood musical, the pathos and the tragedy as distinctly American as a Mafia film.
Indeed, my own references were carefully considered and a careful reader will know what to expect if they pick this novel up. :)
It was pretty awesome, all told. The search and the apparent finding and confusion of identity is a very major theme, whether told as the story of Nero Golden, the patriarch, or through any of his sons who are as bright as those in Brothers Karamazov, or through the identity of our unreliable narrator, the house-guest and future filmmaker of the House of Golden.
But let me be honest here... I'd have read and enjoyed this novel just for the sequences about the rise of the Joker in politics. :) That stuff was GOLDEN.
And indeed, all of this was clever and fascinating and the looming tragedy of the family always kept me glued to the page as if I was rubbernecking a particularly bad auto accident. And it was beautiful. I don't know what that says about me, but I certainly love a good tragedy. It was lurid and fantastical and gaudy as if we were reading about Gatsby which, indeed, there was made multiple references.
Above all, this is a very modern book full of modern post-truth America and the lies that we see with our right eyes and the distorted truths of our left. I can honestly recommend this as a great and fun read. All those accolades that Rushdie seems to be getting are well deserved. He's one hell of a writer.
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