Soon to be a series produced by Mindy Kaling
“A dizzyingly original, fiercely funny, deeply wise novel about the seductive powers—and dangers—of borrowed ambition.” —Celeste Ng, #1 bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere
“Sanjena Sathian’s Gold Diggers is a work of 24-karat genius.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
Named a Best Book of April by Bustle • PopSugar • Entertainment Weekly • Good Morning America • CNN
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 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.
Sathian's dazzling debut centers on the Indian American community of Hammond Creek, Ga., where the high-achieving children of immigrants compete for top grades and pageant titles. In 2006, 15-year-old Neil Narayan is part of the debate team at school, though he has always been unremarkable compared to his Duke-bound older sister and his best friend, Anita Dayal. But things change when Neil discovers the secret behind Anita's triumphs: a spellbinding concoction made from gold, which Anita's mother, Anjali, brews using jewelry swiped from their more successful neighbors' homes. After Neil drinks the potion, he becomes smarter and sharper, but his newfound ambition soon leads to a tragic event that forever changes the lives of Hammond Creek's residents. A decade later, an aimless Neil now a struggling history PhD candidate at Berkeley is shocked when Anita reappears with a plan that will once again test just how far he is willing to go to create the life he desires. While the stakes feel a bit lower as the final ploy plays out, 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.