The Golden House

Publisher: Knopf Canada
One of the truly great writers of the century reaches beyond the very top of his game in this uncannily timely knockout of a novel. In quality and compelling scope, this is Rushdie's The Godfather meets The Great Gatsby--an unparalleled modern-day American thriller, with wonderful, moving characters and a grippingly entertaining story straight out of today's headlines, set against the panorama of American culture and politics from the inauguration of Obama to post-election Trump.

When powerful real-estate tycoon Nero Golden immigrates to the States under mysterious circumstances, he and his three adult children assume new identities, reinventing themselves as emperors living in a lavish house 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, even as Nero Golden continues to raise huge buildings carrying his name in gold letters.
     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 former model, betrayal and murder, and far away, in their abandoned homeland, some decent intelligence work that could ruin Nero Golden forever.
     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, and identity politics; Gamergate; the backlash against political correctness; the ascendancy of Superman and Batwoman and the superhero movie; and, of course, the insurgence of a ruthlessly ambitious, narcissistic villain with painted skin and coloured hair.


Chapter 1

On the day of the new president’s inauguration, when we worried that he might be murdered as he walked hand in hand with his exceptional wife among the cheering crowds, and when so many of us were close to economic ruin in the aftermath of the bursting of the mortgage bubble, and when Isis was still...
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Longlisted for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction 

“[A] darkly humorous and humane exploration of family, history and whether it’s possible to be both truly good and wretchedly evil at the same time. . . . The Golden House shows that, at seventy, Rushdie is still a profoundly necessary voice in contemporary literature.” —The Globe and Mail

“[A]s our perspective on the world is narrowed by the claustrophobic echo chambers of Trump-favoured social media, The Golden House seeks to open it back out.” —Maclean’s

“The great strength of The Golden House is Rushdie’s ability to balance the fairy tale tone of the story with the gritty realities both of the family’s life in New York and their gradually revealed past. . . . [The Joker] conceit, and Rushdie’s treatment of it, is reminiscent of the novel as a whole: it begins as a clever metaphor, veers almost into self-destructive excess before becoming something not only true, but profound and moving. Mystery, tragedy, family drama, coming of age story, romance, myth, satire, and on, and on—in its glorious excess, The Golden House is a fairy tale for our time.” —Toronto Star

“If you read a lot of fiction, you know that every once in a while you stumble upon a book that transports you, telling a story full of wonder and leaving you marveling at how it ever came out of the author’s head. The Golden House is one of those books. . . . The final image . . . is dizzying, a fitting end to a novel that tackles more than a handful of universal truths while feeling wholly original.” —The Associated Press

My favorite Rushdie novel in years. . . . 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. . . . [W]ildly satiric and yet piercingly real.” —Poets & Writers

The Golden House . . . ranks among Rushdie’s most ambitious and provocative books. . . . [The Golden House] displays the quicksilver wit and playful storytelling of Rushdie’s best work. . . . Rushdie [hasn’t] lost his preternatural capacity to mash up mythology, religion, history and pop culture. Reading The Golden House feels like bingeing on a stack of art-film DVDs and copies of Bulfinch’s Mythology and The Arabian Nights. Pick your classic hubristic figure—Oedipus, Lear, Gatsby—and you’ll hear him echoed in Nero.” —USA Today

“Rushdie’s prose is beyond much reprieve—there are few contemporary artists who come to mind that possess his ability to craft sentences. In this regard, The Golden House, his latest novel, is no exception. . . . The Golden House is a joy to read. . . . It’s hard to not have fun reading writing at Rushdie’s level of craftsmanship. It’s clever, intimidating, jocund, and electrifying.” —Chicago Review of Books

“A golden return. . . . [B]oldly modern.” —Toronto Star

“[A] nuanced fury. . . . [R]ipe with myth and imagination. . . . [T]he story is hardly hemmed in by its immediacy—rather, it is spread wide across its current canvas. . . . If there is a theme to Rushdie’s entire body of work, it is the power of story and myth to uplift and inform us. In The Golden House, he has provided us a cautionary tale, unmasked and set in the trembling present—and infused, as such, with an urgency that is impossible to ignore.” —Winnipeg Free Press

“Rushdie lets the story unspool in elegantly rhythmic prose laced with irony and sometimes laugh-out-loud humour. And he uses the clever device of embedding into the narrative, told from René’s point of view, the script he’s developing, which embellishes the facts in ways that subtly comment on the idea of the unreliable narrator. All that in itself would make The Golden House a fantastic read. But there are other pleasures. Rushdie lays on the pop culture references almost gleefully. . . . [H]is empathy for people with experiences outside his own is inspiring. . . . [T]he Trump subtext is handled so deftly, there are sections devoted to it that you’ll want to go back to more than once. I’ve already read a sequence about Trump (called The Joker by Rushdie) aloud to other people three times. It’s not that Rushdie says anything we don’t already know. It’s that he synthesizes information in ways that somehow manage to increase our already intense outrage. As far as this novel goes, forget about magic and appreciate Rushdie’s take on reality.” —NOW 

Rushdie writes with a Dickensian exuberance, always full of humour as well as striking scornful, tragic notes. Often he plays the role of satirist. His caricatures and outsize figures are full of life, wickedness and human energy: again, as in Dickens, grounded in a precise social and political scene.” —London Evening Standard

Is there a writer living in America today who more seamlessly blends high brow with low brow or who more prodigiously—no, make that promiscuously—infuses his novels with pop culture references, literary allusions, word play, jokes, rock lyrics, and hipster slang than Salman Rushdie? In his latest novel, The Golden House, he flits from the Romans to the Beatles, from The Odyssey to Obamacare, from Sophocles to Michael Jackson, with the same ease that his protagonist, Nero Golden, moves from Bombay to New York. . . . Part detective novel, part social commentary, part movie-inside-a-novel, part homage to The Great Gatsby. . . . [The Golden House] features some of Rushdie’s most direct and anguished writing. . . . [T]his is a recognizably Rushdie novel in its playfulness, its verbal jousting, its audacious bravado, its unapologetic erudition, and its sheer, dazzling brilliance.” —The Boston Globe

“The veteran novelist blends ancient history and myth with popular culture, crime caper and film techniques to fashion a morality tale for today. . . . [C]omplex and witty. . . . In such times as ours, the fabular and mythic may provide more opportunities than the contemporary everyday. . . . Rushdie has always been an impish myth-manipulator, refusing to accept, as in this novel, that the lives of the emperors can’t be blended with film noir, popular culture and crime caper. On the evidence of The Golden House, he is quite right.” —The Guardian

[The Golden House] is like an unsettling mash-up of a Greek tragedy and The Great Gatsby. . . . Like all [Rushdie’s] novels, The Golden House is a teasing exploration of the stories we tell about ourselves and about each other, but in a period he describes as ‘post-factual’ such ideas have suddenly acquired a new and disturbing edge. What we need now, he seems to be saying, isn’t alternative facts. What we need is alternative fictions.” —The Times


“[A]mbitious and rewarding. . . . Replete with allusions to literature, film, mythology and politics, the novel simultaneously channels the calamities of Greek drama and the information overload of the internet. The result is a distinctively rich epic of the immigrant experience in modern America, where no amount of money or self-abnegation can truly free a family from the sins of the past.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Rushdie returns with a topical, razor-sharp portrait of life among the very rich, who are, of course, very different from the rest of us. Where Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities sent up the go-go, me-me Reagan/Bush era, Rushdie’s latest novel captures the existential uncertainties of the anxious Obama years. . . . A sort of Great Gatsby for our time: everyone is implicated, no one is innocent, and no one comes out unscathed, no matter how well padded with cash.” —Kirkus Reviews (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 . . . to the sharply satiric and unnervingly realistic. . . . [G]alvanizing epic. . . . It is also electric with literary echoes from Homer, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and Fitzgerald, and vivid with cinematic tributes to Bunuel, Bergman and Hitchcock. . . . 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 which pos­es timeless questions about the human condition.” —Booklist (starred review)