Podcast #184: Salman Rushdie, The Golden House

By NYPL Staff
October 3, 2017

The New York Public Library Podcast features your favorite writers, artists, and thinkers in smart talks and provocative conversations. Listen to some of our most engaging programs, discover new ideas, and celebrate the best of today’s culture.

If you are looking for the YouTube clip referenced at the beginning of the show, scroll down!

On today’s episode: Salman Rushdie discusses his new book, The Golden House, which was published last month. He spoke with Paul Holdengräber at LIVE from the NYPL. Rushdie is probably best known for this Booker Prize–winning Midnight’s Children and his fatwa-inducing The Satanic Verses. The Golden House is his twelfth novel.

The Golden House centers around a curious block in Greenwich Village bound by Bleecker on the northeast and Houston on the southwest, Macdougal Street on the northwest and Sullivan on the southwest: the Macdougall-Sullivan gardens. The landmarked area of 21 row homes—11 on Macdougal and 10 on Sullivan Street—circumscribes a large interior courtyard that is only accessible through the houses. Among the garden inhabitants in Rushdie’s novel, and at the center of the action, are a wealthy expat family, the Goldens, who have appeared suddenly in one of the homes, having fled their native country under mysterious circumstances. The patriarch, Nero Golden, appears so magnificent and terrifying to one of his neighbors, a young budding filmmaker named Rene Unterlinden, that Rene, who has recently lost his parents in a tragic accident, becomes desperate to make a documentary about the Golden family, which also includes Nero's three sons, Petronius, Lucius Apuleius, and Dionysius, and Nero’s new, younger, Russian wife, Vasilisa. Meanwhile the elections of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, the latter known in The Golden House as The Joker, both give shape and dimension to the narrative—the book is set between roughly 2008 and today—and at times have a direct hand in the motion of the plot.

Here is the clip of Rear Window that Rushdie and Holdengräber watched at the beginning of their conversation:

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