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The golden house : a novel
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * A modern American epic set against the panorama of contemporary politics and culture--a hurtling, page-turning mystery that is equal parts The Great Gatsby and The Bonfire of the Vanities


On the day of Barack Obama's inauguration, an enigmatic billionaire from foreign shores takes up residence in the architectural jewel of "the Gardens," a cloistered community in New York's Greenwich Village. The neighborhood is a bubble within a bubble, and the residents are immediately intrigued by the eccentric newcomer and his family. Along with his improbable name, untraceable accent, and unmistakable whiff of danger, 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, famous on twenty blocks; and D, at twenty-two the baby of the family, harboring an explosive secret even from himself. There is no mother, no wife; at least not until Vasilisa, a sleek Russian expat, snags the septuagenarian Nero, becoming the queen to his king--a queen in want of an heir.

Our guide to the Goldens' world is their neighbor René, an ambitious young filmmaker. Researching a movie about the Goldens, he ingratiates himself into their household. Seduced by their mystique, he is inevitably implicated in their quarrels, their infidelities, and, indeed, their crimes. Meanwhile, like a bad joke, a certain comic-book villain embarks upon a crass presidential run that turns New York upside-down.

Set against the strange and exuberant backdrop of current American culture and politics, The Golden House also marks Salman Rushdie's triumphant and exciting return to realism. The result 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.

Praise for The Golden House

"[A] modern masterpiece . . . telling a story full of wonder and leaving you marveling at how it ever came out of the author's head." --Associated Press

"Wildly satiric and yet piercingly real . . . If F. Scott Fitzgerald, Homer, Euripides, and Shakespeare collaborated on a contemporary fall-of-an-empire epic set in New York City, the result would be The Golden House ." --Poets & Writers

"A tonic addition to American--no, world!--literature . . . a Greek tragedy with Indian roots and New York coordinates." -- San Francisco Chronicle
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Booklist Review
*Starred Review* A canny observer whose imagination is fueled by anger, bemusement, and wonder over humankind's delusions and destructiveness, Rushdie writes novels that range from the mischievously fantastical, as in Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (2015), to the sharply satiric and unnervingly realistic. His newest, a rampaging saga of power and blood, is centered on a Manhattan oasis, the Gardens, a shared stretch of verdant land behind a row of historic homes in Greenwich Village. On the day America's first African American president takes office, a mysterious construction and development billionaire and his three adult sons take up residence in a long-empty Gardens mansion. Their country of origin is aggressively concealed; their assumed names are startlingly hubristic. The patriarch, charming and menacing, is Nero Golden. His eldest is Petronius, called Petya, a man of sad, brilliant strangeness. Just a year younger, suave Lucius Apuleius, nicknamed Apu, is an artist. Dionysus, known as D, is a half-brother born 18 years later than Apu, his mother's identity known only to Nero. Gardens native René, an aspiring filmmaker, quickly discerns that the enigmatic Goldens are the perfect subject for a screenplay. He ingratiates himself with his new neighbors, gains entry to their fortress, and closely monitors their dramatic, tragic, and resounding struggles over the next eight years even as he is inexorably pulled into the molten heart of this doomed kingdom-in-exile. Rushdie's galvanizing epic of the fall of civilizations attacked from within is spiked with references to ancient Greece and Rome, the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, and a litany of recent American mass and police shootings and other horrific crimes. It is also electric with literary echoes from Homer, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, and Fitzgerald, and vivid with cinematic tributes to Buñuel, Bergman, and Hitchcock. This contextual amplitude is matched by narrative complexity as René experiments with different approaches to a story that is forever intensifying. He tinkers with form and facts, aiming for Operatic Realism as he recounts ruthless Nero's seduction by the coldly calculating Russian, Vasilisa; autistic Petya's hidden life as a brilliant video-game inventor; Apu's increasing fame and susceptibility to visions; the two brothers' disastrous rivalry over Ubah Tuur, a serenely elegant Somali sculptor; and D's paralyzing struggle over his (or her) gender identity, a theme Rushdie handles with delving sensitivity and forthright inquiry as does Arundhati Roy in another major novel of the season, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Crimes of passion and greed escalate; the Goldens' past (which opens a portal onto India's systemic corruption, international criminal gangs, and terrorism) catches up to them; and the body count rises as René, in love with his gifted colleague, Suchitra Roy, harbors his own explosive secret. His entanglement with lies and subterfuge inspires a vehement critique of our descent into an age of bitterly contested realities in which facts and those who illuminate them scientists, historians, and journalists are vociferously and perversely condemned as elitist and fake. As the 2016 presidential campaign roars to its, for many, shocking conclusion, René describes one candidate as the Joker and the other as Batwoman, declaring, America had left reality behind and entered the comic-book universe. There is a scorching immediacy and provocation to Rushdie's commanding tragedy of the self-destruction of a family of ill-gotten wealth and sinister power, of ambition and revenge, and the rise of a mad, vulgar, avaricious demigod hawking radical untruth and seeding chaos. The Golden House is a headlines-stoked novel-on-fire sure to incite discussion. But it is also a ravishingly well-told, deeply knowledgeable, magnificently insightful, and righteously outraged epic that poses timeless questions about the human condition. Can a person be both good and evil? Is family destiny? Does the past always catch up to us? In a time of polarizing extremes, can we find common ground? Will despots and their supporters be forever with us? Will humankind ever learn? Can story and art enlighten us? As Rushdie's blazing tale surges toward its crescendo, life, as it always has, rises stubbornly from the ashes, as does love.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2017 Booklist
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