The Golden House by Salman Rushdie
Intense with a realistic setting, replete with references of our life and events today with a backdrop of a Greek tragedy makes Salman Rushdie's The Golden House a piece of literature to deal with.
The book begins with a billionaire who moves to New York with his three sons from Mumbai. They then take on new names and new identities. The days and times are when Barack Obama became President. It further goes on to chart his life and the lives of his sons when Donald Trump takes up presidency in the United States of America. So yes…..references and not so subtle references of events and people make it an interesting piece.
Nero Golden, an enigmatic businessman and billionaire is the protagonist. His three sons, Petya who is an agoraphobic and alcoholic, Apu, a flamboyant artist and D who is dealing with gender issues are the main characters of The Golden House. The narrator is René Unterlinden a young and intriguing neighbour of the Goldens who is an aspiring filmmaker and uses them and their lives as inspiration for his script. Female characters with interesting live stories of their own further shape their lives.
Through strong references of the Greek tragedies, and several Hollywood and Bollywood movies, Rushdie packs a punch. His strong views on the current political undertones in the world is also evident, as the characters grapple with identity crisis, a festering situation that most citizens are facing around the world. You will read about Aadhaar cards and 2G Spectrum, actual events and realise how realistic and modern the scenarios are.
This review is brief because of the lengthy, slightly overstuffed and overpowering emotions that I felt as I tried to understand the robust portrayal of the main protagonists, their relations, their personal tragedies and our lives… our lives as we see it today.
Nero Golden and his sons leave a lasting impression, though not very heroic. I would suggest this book as something you read while contemplating the past and thinking about the future of our generation. A modern day Greek tragedy on point.