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The triumph of the cartoon characters

The Golden House
Forfatter: Salman Rushdie
Forlag: Penguin Random House (UK)

In his usual detailed style, Salman Rushdie investigates what has gone wrong in the United States over the past nine years.

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

«This modern obsession with identity revolts me. It's a way of narrowing us down until we're like aliens to one another. ”

Salman Rushdie's latest novel is swamped by current political issues in the West and not least the United States, such as identity politics, alternative facts and neo-paternalism. It is often said that political literature is bad because it is based on simplified worldviews, but Rushdie's political literature works as well as it does because he constantly opposes the simplifications of reality.

I The Golden House we meet René, a young filmmaker and New Yorker with Belgian ancestry, who hides [his] feelings in the classic Woody-Allen style. [He] locks them away or sublimates them into movie references ». But even though the book follows the dramatic twists and turns of René and his life, it is not he who is the protagonist here, but billionaire Nero Golden and his sons Petya, Apu and D. And if this sounds like constructed names, it is because they are just the. The Golden family has fled Mumbai after a terror attack and is trying to start their lives again in Greenwich Village.

A way of pronouncing something similar to a mix of advertising and headline language.

Nero Golden's name choice becomes a picture of the vulgar part of American aesthetics, where every person with money can trick and mix with reverent art, culture and history, while at the same time exhibiting an eerie masculine ideal, namely the fear-inspiring man, similar to Emperor Nero. controlling everyone around them using cowardly and narcissistic methods, such as daily, separate interrogations of their sons to reveal what the others have said about him. And he escapes with this behavior – at least until his criminal past catches up with him.

An entertainment universe. A fundamental question in Rushdie's novel is how and why we are governed by rich and amoral men, and he finds some answers in the fragmentation of societal structures: " "He even describes a truth concept that has become so completely relativized that we no longer trust those who convey what is actually true, but rather on the clowns and the bluffs.

The story of The Golden House ranges from Obama's inauguration to the election of Donald Trump, but while most politicians and other celebrities are referred to by their own names, it is instead one who calls himself "The Joker" who becomes president in 2016. An interesting move, which shows that metaphors may resemble reality more than reality itself: “The leader spoke of the unrivaled beauty of white skin and red lips to adoring audiences wearing green fright wigs and chanting in unison, Ha! Have! Have!" These scenes also remind me of the ingenious and disturbing series B, where a blue cartoon character named Waldo becomes a candidate for the British Parliament, because he creates constant entertainment value with his cartoonish and sleazy demeanor. When Rene's boyfriend Suchitra is to object to the Joker, she enters this entertainment universe, and it's her Batwoman character who becomes the opposition's leading campaign.

Hybrid identity. In a US shrouded in market liberalism, attention wars and identity politics, these figures become the logical outcome. They have a simplified identity that is established by a variety of for-and-against attitudes, recognizable and unambiguous facial features and a way of expressing similarities to a mixture of advertising and headline language.

Admittedly, one should be cautious about talking about a message in a novel, because it can quickly diminish the reading experience, but it is nevertheless impossible to escape that Rushdie has a lot of heart here. In its expansive, reference-heavy and slightly magical-
realistic style, he brings out the doubts, the gray zones and the curiosity as ideals. And not least the hybrid identity, an identity that does not fit into a hypersensitive echo chamber. The hybrid goes back to authorship, and is linked to Rushdie's own complex identity as both British and Indian. And, ironically, it is the same thing that goes back to the writing of the American national caller Walt Whitman, and the ideal the United States supposedly should have been built upon, here paraphrased by Rushdie: “I am not one thing. In contain multitudes. Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. ”In these times, there are good reasons to read both Whitman and Rushdie.

Ny Tid has chosen to publish two different readings of the same book,
also read The fire at the end of the journey

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