February 2019 Indie Next List
— Emily Crowe, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, MA
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WINNER OF THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE • “Golden Child is a stunning novel written with force and beauty. Though true to herself, Adam's work stands tall beside icons of her tradition like V.S. Naipaul.”—Jennifer Clement, author of Gun Love
Rural Trinidad: a brick house on stilts surrounded by bush; a family, quietly surviving, just trying to live a decent life. Clyde, the father, works long, exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant in southern Trinidad; Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their two sons, thirteen years old, wake early every morning to travel to the capital, Port of Spain, for school. They are twins but nothing alike: Paul has always been considered odd, while Peter is widely believed to be a genius, destined for greatness.
When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn't come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already, and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde begins to understand Paul’s fate, his world shatters—leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.
Like the Trinidadian landscape itself, Golden Child is both beautiful and unsettling, a resoundingly human story of aspiration, betrayal, and love.
Praise for Golden Child
“In fluid and uncluttered prose, Golden Child weaves an enveloping portrait of an insular social order in which the claustrophobic support of family and neighbors coexists with an omnipresent threat from the same corners.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[A] powerful debut . . . a devastating family portrait—and a fascinating window into Trinidadian society.”—People
“[An] emotionally potent debut novel . . . with a spare, evocative style, Adam (a Trinidad native) evokes the island’s complexity during the mid-'80s, when the novel is mostly set: the tenuous relationship between Hindus like Clyde’s family and the twins’ Catholic schoolmaster, assassinations and abductions hyped by lurid media headlines, resources that attract carpetbagging oil companies but leave the country largely impoverished.”—USA Today
Praise For Golden Child: A Novel…
"Adam's writing is luxuriant, evoking the atmospheric island setting and the complicated, worried lives lived under a near-constant sense of impending violence...Heartbreaking and lovely, this is an important work by a promising new voice."—Booklist (starred review)
"Fascinating...an incisive and loving portrait of contemporary Trinidad."—Kirkus
"This book manages to combine two things rarely bound together in the same spine: a sensitive depiction of family life and the page-flicking urgency of a thriller."—The Guardian
"This is a tough, original novel of remarkable poise and confidence."—The Economist
"Golden Child is a beautiful and haunting tale, one that leaves readers thinking long after the last page has been turned."—Associated Press
"Golden Child is a stunning novel written with force and beauty. Though true to herself, Adam's work stands tall beside icons of her tradition like V.S. Naipaul."—Jennifer Clement, author of Gun Love
“Golden Child swells with wisdom about masculinity, family, violence and sacrifice. I read it in a sitting, gripping the pages, nails chewed down by the final word. An intense, heart-breaking debut.”—Daniel Magariel, author of One of the Boys
“The characters in Golden Child are so completely real that I keep forgetting that their home is the page; they seem to breathe and think on their own. This is a devastating, wonderful book, and I can't help but wait impatiently for whatever Claire Adam writes next.” – Sara Taylor, author of The Lauras
“Utterly convincing, horrifying and, ultimately, intensely moving, it’s almost impossible to believe this small masterpiece is a first novel. Adam is a true and rare talent. I’m in awe.”—Julie Myerson, author of The Stopped Heart
SJP for Hogarth, 9780525572992, 288pp.
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. Why is Clyde hesitant to accept help from people, even family? Do you think Uncle Vishnu is genuine in his desire to help? Do you trust him?
2. Why does Joy insist that the twins attend the same school?
3. Should Peter be responsible for looking after Paul, even if it impedes his progress?
4. While living, Uncle Vishnu helped keep the Deyalsinghs afloat, improving Peter’s prospects and securing his future. How does his death affect them in the immediate and distant future? How does his death affect the family, as a whole, in the immediate and distant future?
5. Is Romesh right in feeling that he, as well as the rest of the family, is entitled to a portion of the money that Uncle Vishnu left for Peter? How do you foresee this affecting relationships within the family moving forward?
6. Does putting Paul in St. Saviour’s—a school he’s not qualified to attend—for the sake of keeping the twins together, help or hurt him?
7. What do you make of Father Kavanagh assuring Paul that he’s normal, contrary to what others have said his whole life? Is he right? Is too much made of Paul’s deficiencies? Do you think Father Kavanagh oversteps his boundaries in expressing this belief to Clyde?
8. What effect does Father Kavanagh’s assurance have on Paul? How does it affect their relationship, as well as Father Kavanagh’s relationship with Clyde?
9. Paul initially stands up to the bandits during their attempted robbery. When they later approach him outside of the house, Paul all but surrenders. Why does he submit the second time around?
10. Why does Clyde opt not to use Vishnu’s money for Paul’s ransom despite the mounting pressure from the kidnappers, Joy, and, then, Peter?
11. Does Clyde make enough of an effort to bring Paul home safely? Because of his actions, or lack thereof, is he ultimately responsible for what happens to Paul?
12. Is it right to sacrifice the future (or life) of one child to ensure the future of another if the latter’s is assuredly brighter? Would you make the same decision as Clyde?
13. In the airport, Peter thinks to himself, Paul has played his part. Daddy has played his part. What do you make of each person’s role in Peter’s eventual success? How should Clyde feel about his role, especially after Paul’s death? How do you think Paul would feel about his role? Do you think he sacrificed himself in order to protect his family?
14. Should Peter feel guilty about attending Harvard after Paul’s death?
15. What does Clyde’s reaction at the end of the book reveal about his guilt? Does he think what he did (or didn’t do) was worth it? In your opinion, was it worth it?
16. What do you think are a parent’s obligations to his or her children?