Stuck at his suburban Atlanta high school, Neeraj (Neil) Narayan simply doesn’t have the drive of his older sister Prachi or the other striving families in his community. But then, through his on-again, off-again friend Anita, he learns the true meaning of the adage, ‘when life gives you lemons…’ Why are little bits of jewelry disappearing from the families of Hammond Creek? And how far can Anita and Neil go in the pursuit of ambition, especially when they settle in the Bay Area, paradise on Earth for the tech striver? I love the way Gold Diggers solders imagery onto the story, whether the tale of the Bombayan prospector Neil is researching or Kanye West’s ‘Gold Digger’ wafting through the high school dance. It reminded me that despite the tension (did I mention this is also a caper novel?) and the likely heartbreak (we all can’t get what we want), this engaging and insightful novel is a comedy, and there will be a wedding at the end.— Daniel Goldin
Sanjena Santhian draws readers effortlessly into the magical world she’s created where parents are so desperate to bring success to their children that they turn to a powerful and dangerous alchemy. What started in India continues in Atlanta as teenaged Neil Naryan, who lacks the drive of his overachieving sister, discovers his neighbors Anita and her mom are not only gold thieves but have also managed to siphon off the ambitions of the smarter, more motivated kids in their close-knit but competitive Indian community. What follows veers between hilarious and tragic, and the results haunt Neil for the next decade, until he and Anita reunite for one final heist. The actual drinking of gold is a symbol, of course, of the hopes, dreams, and ultimately the fears of Asian immigrant parents. How will their kids survive in a cut-throat America without a prestigious degree and job? This novel will leave you with lots to consider about the price of ambition. Neil’s slightly cynical voice mixed with his never-ending longing for an Anita, who’s always a bit out of reach, make this story of love and aspiration so much fun to read.— Jenny Chou
Boswell presents an evening with Sanjena Sathian, author of Gold Diggers, in conversation with Anuradha D Rajurkar - Wednesday, May 12, 7 pm CDT. Register for this virtual event here.— Boswell Book Company
April 2021 Indie Next List
“Gold as a drug. Gold as a metaphor for the glittering hopes and burdens new immigrants put on their children’s shoulders. Gold as the thread weaving history, memory, and imagination, a meditation on how the past blends into the present. Gold as the object of an improbable heist. There is so much in this book, but it is first and foremost an extraordinarily good yarn, the story of two generations of American-Indian immigrants trying to become Americanized while clinging to a fetishized, culturally commodified India. There is love, drugs, alchemy, and stories about the gold rush, both the forty-niners and the new gold diggers of the tech bubble. It’s fun and fast-paced, except when you stop short for a sentence so evocative you want to dwell on it. A seriously good book by a seriously talented writer.”
— Françoise Brodsky, Shakespeare & Co., New York, NY
About the Author
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.