This week's bookcase includes reviews of The Golden House by Salman Rushdie, The Invisible Life Of Euridice Gusmao by Martha Batalha and The Diary Of A Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

The Golden House

by Salman Rushdie

"The high life of Manhattan, of art and fashion, a sibling quarrel, an unexpected metamorphosis, the arrival of a beautiful woman, betrayal and murder." Such are the events promised to us in Salman Rushdie's latest work, The Golden House - a searing examination of modern America and the world around it since 2008. But as fans of Rushdie's previous novels will know, the path to discovering these episodes is entwined with mystery, deception, and the magic realism that is now synonymous with his work. Beginning with the arrival in New York of the mysterious Nero Golden - a fiendishly rich real estate mogul from an unnamed land to the east - on the day of Barack Obama's inauguration, the story follows the Golden family through its tumultuous time settling back into Manhattan life. The story is told through the eyes of an aspiring film-maker living on the same block, named Rene: Rushdie's answer to Jay Gatsby's Nick Carraway. But through the density of his intermingling literary references, puzzles and (deliberately) fanciful plot, comes Rushdie's true success: His great ability to capture the devilish mood of post-crash greed, political upheaval, and the rejection of the cosmopolitan, liberal west.

The Invisible Life Of Euridice Gusmao

by Martha Batalha

The Invisible Life Of Euridice Gusmao is an irrepressible tale of life and love, of ambition thwarted and fulfilled and of the deals we make with ourselves and others - all set against the backdrop of 1940s Rio de Janeiro. Author Martha Batalha is Brazilian, although she now lives in Los Angeles, and worked as a journalist and publisher before writing this, her debut novel. She effortlessly brings to life not only her many characters, but the sights, smells and experiences of the world they live in with a deft, wry touch. The titular Euridice is talented and ambitious, but puts her own ambitions to one side when her sister Guida elopes, instead settling down to married life with steady, traditional Antenor. Talent stifled, Euridice turns her hand to a number of creative endeavours - from cooking to dress making - in an attempt to channel her creativity and brighten up her daily routine. Then her sister Guida returns to town, changing the course of both sisters' lives. Characters are at the heart of this enchanting, unusual debut novel which draws readers in with its witty, evocative prose.

The Red-Haired Woman

by Orhan Pamuk

The latest novel from Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk delves into the complicated and sometimes tragic world of fathers and sons. A young, bookish, apprentice and a master well-digger the former begins to see as more of a father than his own, use ancient methods to dig a well on a plateau outside Istanbul. The apprentice spends his days at the well and evenings visiting the nearby garrison town, where he becomes obsessed with a red-haired actress, in a coming-of-age summer which sets in train events that will have implications for the rest of his life. Woven into this story are ancient tales from the West and East, that of Oedipus who unwittingly kills his father and sleeps with his mother, and the Persian myth of Rostam and Sohrab, in which a father unwittingly kills his son. The days on the dusty plateau are brought powerfully to life and the story is peopled with fascinating flawed characters, though the presence of the ancient myths sometimes feels overbearing. As it unfolds, the story appears to be marching towards an inevitable conclusion, but this tangled tale of family relationships has a dramatic twist.

The Diary Of A Bookseller

by Shaun Bythell

Keen second-hand bookshop browsers may already be aware of The Book Shop in Wigtown, Scotland, as it has a thriving social media presence. But readers who have never heard of its owner Shaun Bythell, should get just as much enjoyment from this Diary, which runs for a full year from February 5, 2014 - particularly if they liked the TV series Black Books. Prefacing each chapter with an extract from George Orwell's Bookshop Memories, published in 1936, helps Bythell draw amusing similarities between the profession then and now. His diary entries are peopled with fascinating characters: From Nicky, his unruly, Morrisons-skip-raiding, sort-of-deputy; to Mr Deacon, possibly the only customer who still orders books from a shop rather than Amazon; to his festival-organising friend Eliot who delights in leaving his shoes around for people to trip over. It's a sarcastic reminder of the struggles of small business ownership, the importance of community and the frustration of dealing with customers. Amid all the smirks, it's occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, with an epilogue detailing where all the major players are in 2017 that has a touch of wistfulness.