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Book Review: The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie, who is a master of imagery with words, and has always landed in controversies for his outspokenness, returns with a commentary on the political history of America in the last decade. He narrates the story of Nero Golden, a real estate tycoon who immigrated to America with his three sons, at the same time when Obamas move in to the White House.

Told from the point of view of their neighbour René, the story follows the story of these motley characters through their ups and downs – their high life, sibling rivalry and clashes, the ‘other woman’ and ultimately the undoing of the ‘Golden House’. And with the story of the Golden family, come the varied references to popular cinema, pop culture, political movements and literature of the time.

Although Rushdie does not name him, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (no, I do not mean Voldemort) makes his way into the story too. Nero Golden’s resemblance to the golden-haired business tycoon currently residing in the White House is unmistakable. In fact, he and his sons – and the travails they go through – are symptomatic of the political and social climate America is passing through. Or as René puts it, a constant struggle between good and evil.

Rushdie, in his Dickensian style, weaves a narrative that is often satirical. The book is full of humour, often in the backdrop of a social problem. He describes Obama’s successor as a character straight of a comic book – “it was the year of The Joker in Gotham and beyond”, Rushdie writes, as “America had left reality behind”. He laboriously sketches every character, which sometimes is tedious.

In ‘Midnight’s Children’ Rushdie’s magic realism has wooed us all. In ‘The Golden House’ he tries to tread the same path, leaving us wanting for more. But in times like these, reality is often more fascinating than fiction.


My Rating: 3/5 stars

P.S. This review is part of the Flipkart Bloggers’ Affiliate Programme

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