Emma Brockes in The Guardian:
The image that came to Salman Rushdie, around which he would build his new novel, was an enclosed garden in downtown Manhattan. It is a space that exists in real life (although, as one of the characters in The Golden House observes, real life is a category from which it is increasingly hard to distinguish less reliable entities) and with which Rushdie is familiar; old friends inhabit one of the houses backing on to the garden. “The idea of there being a secret space inside this noisy public space,” he says. “I had this lightbulb moment that it was like a theatre – with a Greek tragedy, amphitheatre quality – where the characters could enact their stories. It also had a Rear Window quality, of being able to spy on everybody else’s lives. At that point, the Golden family decided they wanted to move in.”
We are in the offices of Andrew Wylie, Rushdie’s agent of 30 years – “my longest relationship!” he says gleefully – a mile north of Rushdie’s apartment in lower Manhattan. He is looking particularly Rushdie-esque today: part rumpled intellectual, part something less sober. At 70, Rushdie has had more public incarnations than most writers of literary fiction – brilliant novelist, man on the run, subject of tabloid scorn and government dismay, social butterfly, and, in that singularly British designation, man lambasted for being altogether too Up Himself – but it is often overlooked what good company he is. His humour this morning is not caustic, nor ironised, nor filtered through any of the more protected modes of engagement, but is a kind of jolliness – a giggly delight – that simply makes him a good laugh to hang out with.