The Golden House

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 mortgage bubble, and when Isis was still an Egyptian mother-goddess, an uncrowned seventy-something king from a faraway country arrived in New York City with his three motherless sons to take possession of the palace of his exile, behaving as if nothing was wrong with the country or the world or his own story.

The first #readathon book, my second Rushdie. I picked this book because a review made it sound like satire about the present American president. You could say that a character shows up with definite resemblance to the man, but he’s a side character of a side character. And with the actions of this president … there’s a thin line between satire and reality here.

So what is The Golden House about? The family Golden, rich immigrants come to New York City. They’re leprechaun gold, new money, and it mesmerises main character RenĂ©, a (script) writer. Mesmerised turns into obsessed and entangled, which makes an exciting story, but makes several victims.

In the end you might agree with this being satire about the present American president, maybe not so much solely him, but also the world he came from and the inhabitants of that world who are sure that everything can be bought. The very rich society of Manhattan is almost as alien as creatures from a science fiction story, these just have more influence on our media and politicians.

The Golden House, Salman Rushdie, Random House 2017

The Satanic Verses

‘To be born again,’ sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, ‘first you have to die.’

The Satanic Verses was one of those books, for me. One of those you aren’t very eager to read, can easily not read for a couple of days but when you read, you stay around and take the story with you when you close the book.

The main plot is the story of Saladin and Gibreel. They survive a fall from an exploded plane, and that doesn’t leave them unchanged. Saladin seems to grow into hate and transforms into the classic image of the devil. Where’s evil, there is good and Gibreel becomes his name sake: the archangel Gabriel.
Next to their transformations there are different stories throughout the ages and continents. The start of the sharia, actor’s vanities, pilgrimage. Some are less interesting while others show Rushdie’s talent for richly detailed, colorful writing.

The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie, Picador 1988