Book Review #45: Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian (2021)

Rating: 4 out of 5 ⭐️
Title: Gold Diggers: A Novel
Author: Sanjena Sathian
Published: 2021 (Penguin Press, New York)
Pages: 344 (Hardcover)
Genres: Fiction, Novel, Magical Realism, India Cultural, Adult, Literary Fiction
CW: Language, Sexual Content, Magic, Xenophobia, Adult Situations, Drug & Alcohol Use
Link Here

My borrowed copy of Gold Diggers while I sat in my car

Hello everyone, It’s finally the weekend, and I’m back for another review! I felt a little proud of myself for taking the time to finish this book during my reading slump… but of course I think not feeling well and having to stay in bed helped a little. I’ve been holding onto this one for awhile, procrastinating and renewing this book at the library, but I’m finally finished! This is the first book I’ve read by author Sanjena Sathian. I believe this is her second book according to Goodreads, but she’s written a lot of nonfiction and short fiction for multiple publications. And by the end of this book, I was a fan of her writing and perspective. This is my review for Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian.

Anyway, that was all I grasped about change: that it occurred above me, around me, that by the time I noticed it, it was too late; that I would always be catching up to it” – Sanjena Sathian, Gold Diggers

Gold Diggers is a work of narrative, contemporary fiction about Neil Narayan, the charming son of immigrant Indian parents living in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. Taking place during two different periods of Neil’s life, the author tells his story about growing up in Atlanta and then living on the West Coast in Berkley and Silicon Valley as an adult. The event that unites both places and impacts Neil’s life forever is meeting Anita Dayal, his neighbor and romantic crush, and her mother Anjali. Neil discovers their secret, they brew a secret gold potion using alchemy from real-gold Indian jewelry and drink it to harness the ambition of their owners in their basement. Neil becomes in on their project forever changing the course of his life, and in turn, affecting their suburban community when things get out of control. Ten years later, as a drug-addicted adult and historian on the California Gold Rush, Neil meets Anita in Silicon Valley and she bring him in once again on a scheme to help her mother who is in trouble. Filled with magic, history, wonders, and comedic relief – Gold Diggers is a biting and intelligent novel about growing up and finding your identity and path on your own terms.

Time that, as Chidi would say, was all everyone wanted – more time for the big, and the small, a chance to undo resentments, a chance to witness your child’s future slowly unfurling, a chance to go on another walk around the sun-warmed cul-de-sac” – Sanjena Sathian, Gold Diggers

Can you tell by my description above that I was a fan of this book? If not, yes I was a fan of this book! At first, it was hard for me to get into it. But once I reached the first quarter to middle of the book, I could barely put it down. I had to know what happened next as the story progressed. The writing and dialogue were clever, and the author’s insight into Indian suburban communities in Atlanta was well constructed and informative. I also loved Neil and Anita, not wanting to give away any spoilers, but their story intertwining together was constructed well and was actually realistic. By the way, I love reading novels that contain romances and relationships where the characters’ actions are a bit more realistic and true to a real persons. The author’s way of describing Neil’s inner dialogue about his world and feelings was fantastic as well. Also, the topics brought forth about communities of persons from India and their American descendant children were a new one for me personally. I have not read a lot of novels that focused on Indian communities and commentary, and that is definitely a shame I know. I try to diversify my reading when I can, but I’m not always best at it. I hope to change that as I go along though.

This was what it felt like growing up. Adults and kids constantly gossiping about one another, judging whether or not you were Indian enough, using I don’t know what kind of standards. And at that point, it’s worse than gossip. It’s actually part of what I wrote my thesis about, at Stanford—because I went back, by the way, and graduated magna cum laude” – Sanjena Sathain, Gold Diggers

Why should you read this book? If you love great novels that contain adult themes while adding a bit of magical realism with a moral twist that also take place with a cast of mostly Indian-decedent characters, this is the book for you. If you’re on the fence about this one, definitely give it a chance! I’m really glad I did. This was the perfect work of adult fiction I needed in my life right now. I’m slowly moving out of my reading slump, and I’m glad I can focus a bit better on books I want to reflect on.

I give this one a 4 out of 5!


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2 thoughts on “Book Review #45: Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian (2021)

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