Salman Rushdie’s new novel ‘The Golden House’ is based on politics: Obama, Trump, Tea Party

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Author Salman Rushdie gestures during an interview with Reuters in central London, September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Paul Hackett/Files
Author Salman Rushdie gestures during an interview with Reuters in central London, September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Paul Hackett/Files

Salman Rushdie’ 13th novel this September, ‘The Golden House’, is based on the last eight years of US politics, including Barack Obama’s years in office, the rise of the Tea Party, and the rise of Donald Trump to the White House.

According to publisher Jonathan Cape, The Golden House follows “a young American filmmaker whose involvement with a secretive, tragedy-haunted family teaches him how to become a man”.

The Guardian reported that starting with the inauguration of Obama in 2008, the book will include current and recent political and social events, including the rise of the ultra-conservative Tea Party; the Gamergate scandal, which saw the widespread online harassment of female gaming journalists framed as a debate about media ethics; the debate over identity politics; and, perhaps most urgently, “the insurgence of a ruthlessly ambitious, narcissistic, media-savvy villain sporting makeup and coloured hair”.

Publishing director at Jonathan Cape, Michal Shavit called it “the ultimate novel about identity, truth, terror and lies” for “a new world order of alternate truths”. She said The Golden House was “a brilliant, heartbreaking, realist novel that is not only uncannily prescient but shows one of the world’s greatest storytellers working at the height of his powers”.

Rushdie is best known for his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses, which was alleged to have traduced the prophet Muhammad, and resulted in him receiving death threats and being forced into hiding with round-the-clock police protection. He established himself as a literary force with “Midnight’s Children,” the 1981 novel that won the Booker Prize.

His last novel, 2015’s Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights – the equivalent of 1,001 nights, a reference to the classic collection of tales – tells the story of a war between the human world and another populated with jinn over generations. That book also starred a certain US president: “an unusually intelligent man, eloquent, thoughtful, subtle, measured in word and deed, a good dancer (though not as good as his wife) … handsome (if a little jug-eared).” It was widely praised as a return to form for Rushdie after his 2012 memoir Joseph Anton, with Ursula Le Guin writing in her review that readers should “admire the courage of this book, revel in its fierce colours, its boisterousness, humour and tremendous pizzazz, and take delight in its generosity of spirit”.

Los Angeles Times reported Rushdie has made no secret of his opposition to Trump. In a tweet in October, he wrote of the Republican presidential candidate, “He is a sexual predator, hasn’t released his tax returns, and has used his foundation’s money to pay his legal fees. He has abused the family of a war hero …”

That tweet was followed by two others, both sporting the “#imwithher” hashtag. His last tweet, on election day, featured a selfie of him with an “I Voted” sticker, and read, “Done. You’re welcome, #MadamPresident!” He hasn’t posted anything on Twitter since.

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