sturgeonslawyer (sturgeonslawyer) wrote,
sturgeonslawyer
sturgeonslawyer

The Golden House, by Salman Rushdie (2019-44)

This is a rather strange book, but then Rushdie has always been a rather strange writer. Two stories are being told here, one on top of the other.

The bottom story is the story of the "Golden" family, Indian ex-pats (though they never say where they're from or why they left), they move into a big house in Greenwich Village on the day of Obama's inauguration as President. The Goldens are:

--Nero Golden, paterfamilias and provider. There is clearly something shady in his past but we are not to learn what until much later. He is a stern, demanding father who plays a violin for relaxation.
--Petronius "Petya" Golden, the eldest son, an inhabitant of the autism spectrum and agoraphobe.
--Apuleius "Apu" Golden, the middle son, an artist of some merit.
--Dionysius "D" Golden, the youngest son, who harbors a secret he keeps even from himself.

The sons are reasonably likeable characters; the father not so much.

Their story is a classical tragedy, their flaws (and especially those of the father) bringing on their respective Nemeses. The Goldens and a reasonably-sized supporting cast play out their roles, if not with relish, at least with flair; and they all have their various lovers/romantic partners/crushes. Perhaps the most important of these is Vasilisa Arsenyeva, a stupendously beautiful Russian woman who charms (in every sense of the word) Nero Golden and plays her own part in the grand tragedy.

I'm avoiding too much plot information because the twists come thick and fast. I consider the blurb on the hardcover edition to be fairly spoily; you might want to avoid it until you're a hundred pages or so in.

So then there's the story on top of the story, the story of René, a film student / filmmaker who, with a group headed by the young genius Suchitra Roy, works on a variety of projects, mostly political campaign films. René lives on the same garden square as the Golden house, and decides to make the Goldens' story the subject of his first feature film. To this end, he connives to learn more and more about them., and becomes closely entangled in their lives: in fact, far too entangled, creating moral and personal dilemmas for himself and others. 

The prose is sparkling, occasionally dropping into other forms akin to film scripts and soliloquies. The close observation is what we would hope to find in a filmmaker - or, indeed, a novelist. And the storytelling, pacing and plotting and such? Simply masterful. I'm beginning to think Rushdie may be Nobel-worthy (though, due to A Certain Incident in his past, I feel certain that he will never get the nod).
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