In the pantheon of literature, the best novels manage to feel timeless even as they capture a snapshot of history, from Jane Austen examining Regency-era social mores in Pride and Prejudice to John Steinbeck depicting the Great Depression in The Grapes of Wrath. But writing about the present is a delicate balance — include too many gadgets, apps and cultural reference points and your story quickly feels irrelevant.
Salman Rushdie has deftly walked that tightrope for decades. From his 1981 breakout Midnight’s Children, which covered everything from India’s bloody partition to the pangs of unrequited love, to 2005’s Shalimar the Clown, which took jihadism from Kashmir to Los Angeles, Rushdie has become a luminary by marrying the literary to the geo-political. He takes on that task once again in his new novel, The Golden House, about a corrupt Indian businessman (alias: Nero Golden) who flees the Bombay mafia to start a new life with his three adult sons in New York City, picking up a Russian trophy wife along the way.