How far would you go for a piece of the American dream?
A magical realist coming-of-age story, Gold Diggers skewers the model minority myth to tell a hilarious and moving story about immigrant identity, community, and the underside...Read More
A magical realist coming-of-age story, Gold Diggers skewers the model minority myth to tell a hilarious and moving story about immigrant identity, community, and the underside of ambition.
A floundering second-generation teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is funny and smart but struggles to bear the weight of expectations of his family and their Asian American enclave. He tries to want their version of success, but mostly, Neil just wants his neighbor across the cul-de-sac, Anita Dayal.
When he discovers that Anita is the beneficiary of an ancient, alchemical potion made from stolen gold - a "lemonade" that harnesses the ambition of the gold's original owner - Neil sees his chance to get ahead. But events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart. Years later in the Bay Area, Neil still bristles against his community's expectations--and finds he might need one more hit of that lemonade, no matter the cost.
Sanjena Sathian's astonishing debut offers a fine-grained, profoundly intelligent, and bitingly funny investigation into what's required to make it in America.
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.
"Sathian's satire is pitch perfect . . . savagely funny. The comedic grotesque register gives way, at times, to an authentic and heartrending melancholia . . . [M]agnificent--canny and moving and just plain fun . . . Sathian's movement toward fantasy in the story's second half is a wise, satisfying turn. Her prose lifts off: there's a delight she takes in writing humorously about magic that shows off the scope of her immense talent . . . [a] firm critique of secondhand striving and cutthroat ambition." - Anita Felicelli, The Los Angeles Review of Books
"This novel deftly weaves together magic and history to produce a compelling coming-of-age story." - The New Yorker
"Sanjena Sathian's Gold Diggers is a work of 24-karat genius . . . remarkable . . . Sathian's effervescent social satire breaks the bonds of ordinary reality and rises to another level . . . Like Aimee Bender, Karen Russell and Colson Whitehead, she's working in a liminal realm where the laws of science aren't suspended so much as stretched . . . dazzling . . . Looking up from the pages of this sparkling debut, I experienced something like the thrill the luckiest 49ers must have felt: Gold! Gold! Gold!" - Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"[A]chingly real reminders of what it was like to be an adolescent in post-9/11 America, feeling the weight of your parents' dreams on your shoulders . . . The tension Sathian builds is one of teenage insecurity swelling into adulthood, until disillusion overthrows the tyranny of American perfectionism . . . exquisite prose humming with contagious anxiety." - Lauren Christensen, The New York Times Book Review
"This terrific debut novel uses heists and alchemy to deconstruct immigrant ambition, striving, and sin . . . The project of Gold Diggers is to deconstruct that dream [of America]. But what makes the novel so compelling is the playfulness with which Sathian deconstructs it. You feel for the characters and the ways they have been warped by their pursuit of greatness and the ways they are haunted by their sins--but also, there are heists and alchemy. It's a blast." - Constance Grady, Vox
"Full of voice . . . rollicking, at times painful, and ultimately intensely satisfying . . . One of the wonderful things about Sathian's writing is how imperfect she allows Neil to be: he can be shallow, vain, awkward, and selfish. Yet it's so easy to root for him, because he's just so terribly alive, his adult narration inhabiting his teenage self honestly, without sugarcoating." - Ilana Masad, NPR
"Sanjena is way too young to have published such an amazing novel about a group of South Asian teenagers and the quest for their identity in the U.S., yet she pulls it off effortlessly, complete with references to TCBY and other 1990s favorites." - Zibby Owens, Good Morning America
"Highly anticipated . . . Funny and exciting, it's an entertaining new twist on the immigrant experience." - Lesley Kennedy, CNN
"Crackles with sarcasm and wit . . . a dazzling tale. Local readers will delight in Sathian's artful depiction of metro Atlanta circa 2006, as well as her take on the struggles of being a member of a minority community during the post-9/11 Bush era." - Anjali Enjeti, Atlanta Journal Constitution
"Read Gold Diggers, a fantastical and darkly funny commentary on the American Dream." - Book Riot
"A dazzling and delightful work of fiction by an exciting new literary talent . . . Sathian has produced a beguiling elixir with Gold Diggers, skillfully stirring myth into a playful yet powerful modern-day examination of the American dream and the second-generation citizens who pursue it. A fabulist amalgam of The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye, it's an engrossing cautionary tale as well as a shrewd appraisal of what we consider success--and the moral sacrifices we make to achieve it. Imaginative and intoxicating, Gold Diggers richly rewards its readers." - Stephanie Harrison, BookPage
"Dazzling . . . the sharp characterizations bring humor and contemplation in equal measure, touching on the pressures Neil and Anita face to produce a legacy that honors their parents' sacrifices. Sathian's bildungsroman isn't one to miss." - Publishers Weekly
"Out of [a] nugget of magical realism, Sathian spins pure magic . . . Filled with pathos, humor, slices of American history, and an adrenaline-pumping heist, Sathian's spectacular debut also highlights the steep costs of the all-American dream . . . Pure gold . . . YAs will find much to embrace in Neeraj's dynamite and touching quest to find himself." - Booklist
"A refreshing tweak of the assimilation novel . . . Sathian artfully and convincingly conjures [this] world . . . Sathian has a knack for page-turner prose, but the story has plenty of heft. A winningly revamped King Midas tale." - Kirkus
"In a perfect alchemical blend of familiar and un-, Gold Diggers takes a wincingly hilarious coming-of-age story, laces it with magical realism and a trace of satire, and creates a world that's both achingly familiar and marvelously inventive. Written with such assurance it's hard to believe it's Sanjena Sathian's debut, this is a dizzyingly original, fiercely funny, deeply wise novel about the seductive powers--and dangers--of borrowed ambition." - Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere