Excerpt from The Golden House by Salman Rushdie, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Golden House

A Novel

by Salman Rushdie

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie X
The Golden House by Salman Rushdie
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2017, 400 pages
    Jun 2018, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Matt Grant
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

How we wronged her, the dead lady, when in our gossiping we ascribed her absence from New York to her infidelity. It was her absence, her tragedy, that made sense of her family's presence among us. She was the meaning of this tale.

When the emperor Nero's wife Poppaea Sabina died he burned ten years' supply of Arabian incense at her funeral. But in the case of Nero Golden all the incense in the world couldn't finally cover up the bad smell.

• • •

The legal term benami looks almost French, ben-ami, fooling the unwary into believing it might mean "good friend," bon ami, or "well-liked, "bien-aimé, or something of the sort. But the word is actually of Persian origin, and its root is not ben-ami but bé-námi. is a prefix meaning "without" and nám means "name"; thus benami, "without a name," or anonymous. In India, benami transactions are purchases of property in which the ostensible buyer, in whose name the property is acquired, is just a front man, used to conceal the property's real owner. In old American slang, the benami would be called the beard.

In 1988 the government of India passed the Benami Transactions (Prohibitions) Act, which both outlawed such purchases and made it possible for the state to recover property "held benami." Many loopholes, however, remained. One of the ways in which the authorities have sought to close these loopholes is the institution of the Aadhaar system. Aadhaar is a twelve-digit social security ID number allocated to each Indian citizen for his or her lifetime and its use is mandatory in all property and financial transactions, allowing the citizen's involvement in such transactions to be electronically traced. However, the man we knew as Nero Golden, an American citizen for over twenty years and the father of American citizens, was clearly ahead of the game. When what happened happened and everything came to light we learned that the Golden house was owned outright by a lady of a certain age, the same lady who served as the senior of Nero's two trusted confidantes, and no other legal document could be shown to exist. But what happened did happen, and after that even the walls Nero had so carefully erected came tumbling down, and the full, appalling extent of his criminality stood before us, naked in the daylight of the truth. That was in the future. For now, he was simply N. J. Golden, our rich and—as we discovered—vulgar neighbor.

Excerpted from The Golden House by Salman Rushdie. Copyright © 2017 by Salman Rushdie. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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