Paul Goldberg’s new novel, The Chateau, is a powerful and dark comedy that unfolds in the two weeks leading up to the inauguration of President Donald Trump. It is also a briskly paced crime novel festooned with pithy observations.
The book begins, “Let us not focus on the events that sent Zbignew Wronski over the railing of a forty-third-story balcony of the Grand Dux Hotel on South Ocean Drive in Hollywood, Florida, on January 5, 2017.” Instead, the story centers on William M. Katzenelenbogen, a science reporter at The Washington Post who has been fired from his job and hopes to salvage his career by launching a one-man investigation into the death of Wronski, his college roommate.
Perhaps the best part of this acerbic and witty book is the ongoing battle and verbal sparring between Katzenelenbogen and his estranged father, a poet and small-time crook who will do anything to wrest control of the scheming and corrupt condo board at a crumbling Florida high-rise, the Château Sedan Neuve.
Vodka plays a prominent role in the action. After you have read this book, you might be unable to look at a bottle of Grey Goose without a knowing smile on your face.
Goldberg skillfully depicts the fiery, no-holds-barred condo board battles with everything from slapstick routines to clever repartee. His ruthless, razor sharp satire of Russian immigrant behavior may remind some readers of Gary Shteyngart. Underneath the humor, however, there is a serious vein of introspection that provides the gravitas required to make this a very worthwhile read.
Born in Budapest, Tommy Schnurmacher is a child of Holocaust survivors. An award-winning broadcaster, he was the host of a 3‑hour daily radio talk show in Montreal, Canada. He has also worked as a daily gossip columnist storyteller at the Woodstock Bookfest and — oh, yes — he was a babysitter for John Lennon and Yoko Ono.