The Golden House, by Salman Rushdie (Random House, 2017)
Rushdie’s latest novel is set against the backdrop of the Obama administration. It features a mysterious family who move into a New York neighborhood from a country that cannot be named… except that it is named, and it’s India. These bizarre people, who call themselves Golden and give themselves other names from Ancient Rome, like Nero, attempt to hide their past, and the narrator, a film-maker, attempts to uncover it.
The narrator, whose name we find out eventually is René, is unreliable and annoying. Rushdie is playful in his story-telling, but the playfulness soon loses its charm. The childish voice becomes irritating quickly, and the reader is left wanting a different approach to what could have been a very interesting story. The numerous pop culture references seem forced and silly, as though the author is simply wanting his book to gain some cheap acceptance by people who are capable of remembering things that happened five years ago.
This book lacks subtlety, lacks interest, lacks a coherent, engaging voice, and lacks just about anything else to make it at all worth reading.