Gold Diggers: Book summary and reviews of Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian

Gold Diggers

by Sanjena Sathian

Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian X
Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2021
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A brilliant Indian-American magical realist coming of age story and the debut of a major talent.

Spanning two continents, two coasts, and four epochs, Gold Diggers expertly balances social satire and magical realism in a classic striver story that skewers the model minority narrative, asking what a community must do to achieve the American dream. In razor sharp and deeply funny prose, Sathian perfectly captures what it is to grow up as a member of a family, of a diaspora, and of the American meritocracy. This blockbuster novel both entertains and levels a critique of what Americans of color must do to make their way.

A floundering second-generation teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is authentic, funny, and smart. He just doesn't share the same drive as everyone around him. His perfect older sister is headed to Duke. His parents' expectations for him are just as high. He tries to want this version of success, but mostly, Neil just wants his neighbor across the cul-de-sac, Anita Dayal.

But Anita has a secret: she and her mother Anjali have been brewing an ancient alchemical potion from stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the jewelry's original owner. Anjali's own mother in Bombay didn't waste the precious potion on her daughter, favoring her sons instead. Anita, on the other hand, just needs a little boost to get into Harvard. But when Neil--who needs a whole lot more--joins in the plot, events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart.

Ten years later, Neil is an oft-stoned Berkeley history grad student studying the California gold rush. His high school cohort has migrated to Silicon Valley, where he reunites with Anita and resurrects their old habit of gold theft--only now, the stakes are higher. Anita's mother is in trouble, and only gold can save her. Anita and Neil must pull off one last heist.

Gold Diggers is a fine-grained, profoundly intelligent, and bitingly funny investigation in to questions of identity and coming of age--that tears down American shibboleths.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Out of [a] nugget of magical realism, Sathian spins pure magic…Filled with pathos, humor, slices of American history, and an adrenaline-pumping heist, Sathian's spectacular debut also highlights the steep costs of the all-American dream…Pure gold…YAs will find much to embrace in Neeraj's dynamite and touching quest to find himself." - Booklist (starred review)

"[D]azzling...sharp characterizations bring humor and contemplation in equal measure...Sathian's bildungsroman isn't one to miss." - Publishers Weekly

"[A] refreshing tweak of the assimilation novel... Sathian has a knack for page-turner prose, but the story has plenty of heft. A winningly revamped King Midas tale." - Kirkus Reviews

"A fast-paced, well-crafted story about what it means to be both Indian and American that will likely be appreciated by readers who enjoyed the dark and mysterious elements of Jean Kwok's Searching for Sylvie Lee, Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You, and Susie Yang's White Ivy." - Library Journal

"In a perfect alchemical blend of familiar and un-, Gold Diggers takes a wincingly hilarious coming-of-age story, laces it with magical realism and a trace of satire, and creates a world that's both achingly familiar and marvelously inventive. Written with such assurance it's hard to believe it's Sanjena Sathian's debut, this is a dizzyingly original, fiercely funny, deeply wise novel about the seductive powers—and dangers—of borrowed ambition." - Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere

"Gold Diggers is so many things—truly funny, insightful, smart, and filled with wonderful characters. I loved reading this novel, and loved watching Neil Narayan grow up and grapple with the America his immigrant parents believed in. Neil's journey to figuring out what he believes, which includes a multi-layered exploration into the properties of gold, and his strange and wonderful friendship with his next door neighbor, Anita, make this story unmissable." - Ann Napolitano, bestselling author of Dear Edward

"Is the American dream about hard work and sacrifice or is it about the lure of the Gold Rush, of quick riches there for the taking? Greed, regret and love are all at work here in Sathian's completely original, utterly absorbing, complex and confident debut novel. A bravura performance from an exciting new voice." - Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club

"What a dynamic and exciting debut! Sathian builds such an inviting world of layers and times, all knit together by voice, vibrant imagery and palpable groundedness. A total delight." - Aimee Bender, author of The Butterfly Lampshade

This information about Gold Diggers shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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A Paul and Daisy Soros fellow, Sanjena Sathian is a 2019 graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has worked as a reporter in Mumbai and San Francisco, with nonfiction bylines for the New Yorker, the New York Times, Food & Wine, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, and more. And her award-winning short fiction has been published in Boulevard, Joyland, Salt Hill, and the Master's Review.

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