Midnight's Children

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The author of The Satanic Verses creates a fascinating family saga about the birth and maturity of a land and its people--a brilliant incarnation of the human comedy. "Rushdie has achieved a magnificent and unique work of fiction."--The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Midnight's Children

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Overview

The author of The Satanic Verses creates a fascinating family saga about the birth and maturity of a land and its people--a brilliant incarnation of the human comedy. "Rushdie has achieved a magnificent and unique work of fiction."--The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Best of the Booker (40th Anniversary of the Booker Award)
Booker of Bookers (25th Anniversary of the Booker Award)
Winner of the 1981 Booker Prize

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Editorial Reviews

Clark Blaise
This is a book to accept on its own terms. . . .As a Bombay book, which is to say, a big-city book, 'Midnight's Children is coarse, knowing, comfortable with Indian pop culture and, above all, aggressive. . . .The flow of the book rushes to its conclusion in counterpointed harmony: myths intact, history accounted for, and a remarkable character fully alive. -- The New York Times
From the Publisher
“Extraordinary . . . one of the most important [novels] to come out of the English-speaking world in this generation.”
–The New York Review of Books

“The literary map of India is about to be redrawn. . . . Midnight’s Children sounds like a continent finding its voice.”
–The New York Times

“In Salman Rushdie, India has produced a glittering novelist– one with startling imaginative and intellectual resources, a master of perpetual storytelling.”
–The New Yorker

“A marvelous epic . . . Rushdie’s prose snaps into playback and flash-forward . . . stopping on images, vistas, and characters of unforgettable presence. Their range is as rich as India herself.”
–Newsweek

“Burgeons with life, with exuberance and fantasy . . . Rushdie is a writer of courage, impressive strength, and sheer stylistic brilliance.”
–The Washington Post Book World

“Pure story–an ebullient, wildly clowning, satirical, descriptively witty charge of energy.”
–Chicago Sun-Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780099511892
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/2008

Meet the Author

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie was born in 1947 and has lived in England since 1961. He is the author of six novels: Grimus, Midnight’s Children, which won the Booker Prize in 1981 and the James Tait Black Prize, Shame, winner of the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, The Satanic Verses, which won the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, which won the Writers’ Guild Award and The Moor’s Last Sigh which won the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award. He has also published a collection of short stories East, West, a book of reportage The Jaguar Smile, a volume of essays Imaginary Homelands and a work of film criticism The Wizard of Oz. His most recent novel is The Ground Beneath Her Feet, which was published in 1999.

Salman Rushdie was awarded Germany’s Author of the Year Award for his novel The Satanic Verses in 1989. In 1993, Midnight’s Children was voted the ‘Booker of Bookers’, the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its first 25 years. In the same year, he was awarded the Austrian State Prize for European Literature. He is also Honorary Professor in the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His books have been published in more than two dozen languages.

Biography

Born in Mumbai, India, and educated in the U.K., multi-award-winning novelist Salman Rushdie is considered one of the most important and influential writers of contemporary English-language fiction.

Rushdie freelanced for two London advertising firms before turning to a full-time writing career. He made his literary debut in 1975 with Grimus, a sci-fi fantasy that made a very small splash in publishing circles. However, he hit the jackpot with his second novel, Midnight's Children, an ambitious allegory that parallels the turbulent history of India before and after partition. Widely considered Rushdie's magnum opus, Midnight's Children was awarded the Booker Prize in 1981. (Twelve years later, a panel of judges named it the best overall novel to have won the Booker Prize since the award's inception in 1975; and in 2005, Time included it on a list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923.)

Undoubtedly, though, the book that put Rushdie squarely on the cultural radar screen was The Satanic Verses. Published in 1988 and partially inspired by the life of the prophet Muhammad, this erudite study of good and evil won the Whitbread Book Award, but achieved far more notoriety when Muslim fundamentalists condemned it for its blasphemous portrayal of Islam. The book was banned in many Muslim countries, a fatwa was issued by the Iranian Ayatollah, and a multimillion dollar bounty was placed on Rushdie's head. The novelist spent much of the 1990s in hiding, under the protection of the British government. (In 1998, Iran officially lifted the fatwa, but threats against Rushdie's life still reverberate throughout the Muslim world.)

Even without the controversy inspired by The Satanic Verses, Rushdie's literary fame would be assured. His novels comprise a unique body of work that draws from fantasy, mythology, religion, and magic realism, blending them all with staggering imagination and comic brilliance. He has created his own idiom, pushing the boundaries of language with dazzling wordplay and a widely admired "chutnification" of history. His books have won most major awards in Europe and the U.K. and have garnered praise from critics around the world. Britain's Financial Times called him "Our most exhilaratingly inventive prose stylist." Time magazine raved, "No novelist currently writing in English does so with more energy, intelligence and allusiveness than Rushdie." And the writer Christopher Hitchens lamented in the Progressive that were it not for the death threats against him, Rushdie would surely be a Nobel laureate by now.

In addition to his bestselling novels, Rushdie has also produced essays, criticism, and a book of children's fiction. In 2007, Rushdie was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. The citation reads: "Ahmed Salman Rushdie -- author, for services to literature."

Good To Know

Rushdie was short-listed for The Literary Review's Bad Sex Award in 1995 for The Moor's Last Sigh, which included such verses as "For ever they sweated pepper ‘n' spices sweat."

Rushdie participated in a two-day, U.S. State Department conference entitled "Why Do They Hate Us?" for 50 diplomats in the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001.

Rushdie's first novel was a literate sci-fi fantasy entitled Grimus. Although it made only a very small splash in publishing circles, the book was deemed outstanding enough to be selected by a panel of distinguished writers (including Brian Aldiss, Kingsley Amis, and Arthur C. Clarke) as the best science fiction novel of 1975. However, at the last minute, his publishers withdrew the book from consideration, fearing that, if he won, Rushdie would never be able to shake the label of "genre writer."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Ahmed Salman Rushdie
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 19, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bombay, Maharashtra, India
    1. Education:
      M.A. in History, King's College, University of Cambridge

Reading Group Guide

Introduction by Anita Desai

Saleem Sinai was born at midnight, the midnight of India's independence, and finds himself mysteriously 'handcuffed to history' by the coincidence. He is one of 1,001 children born at the midnight hour, each of them endowed with an extraordinary talent -- and whose privilege and curse it is to be both master and victims of their times. Through Saleem's gifts -- inner voices and a wildly sensitive sense of smell -- we are drawn into a fascinating family saga set against the vast, colourful background of the India of this century.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 73 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(35)

4 Star

(19)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 73 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 22, 2009

    A parallel story of the birth of a nation and that nation's children

    "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie won the Booker Prize in 1981 and was awarded in 1993 the honor of "best overall novel" of all Booker Prize winners since the prize was first awarded in 1975. In 2005 it made the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923. I agree that it is worthy of such accolades. It is basically a story of India's history immediately before independence from Great Britain and for its beginning years as a nation continuing on to Pakistan separation and ensuing wars between the two nations. The story is built on and parallels the lives of those children born at midnight on that day of independence, August 15, 1947, at the designated time of independence thus the title, Midnight's Children. The main character, Saleem Sinai, is one of those children and his life is linked to the 1000 other midnight's children all of whom have some type of magical powers or gifts. It is definitely a challenging and intellectual read, both thought-provoking and complex. I feel more knowledgeable about Indian history and the divisions within that nation that continue even into today's society there. * * *

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2007

    The true picture of a newly born country

    I really wonder if anyone else can paint such a true and beuatiful picture of a newly born country in the form of its children.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2004

    WOW

    If I wasn't completely convinced before that Salman Rushdie has a claim to be the most gifted writer on the planet, I am after reading this book. This novel is a generational saga along the lines of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez's 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' and Jeffrey Eugenides's 'Middlesex'. As those two novels reflect the history of their own respective nations, so does 'Midnight's Children.' It is the story of one family, and one person in particular, Saleem, who is born on the stroke of midnight on the exact day and time India achieved its independence from Britain. From that propitious birth onward, Saleem's life becomes a reflection and representation of the young Indian nation itself. The title refers to the 400 odd children who were born at or near this same midnight. Each one of them have magical skills which vary in strength and importance in direct relation to their birth's proximity to midnight. Since Saleem was born exactly at midnight, he has the most valuable skill, the skill to look into people's hearts, minds, and souls, and to commune with the other midnight children mentally. In this vein, he forms the Midnight Children's Conference, a meeting of these 400+ children who communicate through Saleem's telepathic mind and have the stated goal of reforming India. If this sounds unbelievable, it is not. It is the same sort of magical realism fans of Latin American authors will be familiar with, and adds to the strength, beauty, and ultimate brutality of the story without making the reader roll his eyes in incredulity. As is India, so is Saleem. He hears the multitudinous voices of India in his head, a mess of contradictions: peace and violence, forgiveness and revenge, progress and tradition. His family also reflects the indefinable character of India. They are by turns real and fantastical, living and dying, perservering and escaping. The amalgam of these voices and Saleem's family is an India that Rushdie seems to understand no better than anyone else, but his affection for and frustration with India could only come from a native. The reader also follows Saleem's physical life. His face mirrors a map of India, and his enormous nose is gifted at sensing emotions. From the life of a rich boy in Bombay, to a fighter in the India-Pakistan War, to a broken carnival traveller, and finally to an owner of a pickle company, Saleem's journey through life is expansive, human, and always entertaining. The side characters are just as engrossing, and all have a part to play in the tumolt of Indian history. To keep the earlier analogy going, I found this to be a slightly more difficult read than 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' but just as entertaining as 'Middlesex'. Rushdie writes with wit, style, anger, and absolute brilliance. He is generous with allusions, but I felt they were also extremely accessible. I recommend this book not only to India-philes, but also to fans of literature in general. This is a master in peak and rare form, and this is one of the finest novels written in a generation. Most highly recommended.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2000

    I am a proud Indian

    Well, no, not really. far from it actually. but ever since reading this book nearly a decade ago, at the age of 14, i keep a special place in my heart for Bombay. It has sent me on a never ending chase for every written word ever to emerge from under Rushdie's pen, and he has never let me down. But as enchanting as all of his titles are, non is as breathtaking as this one, and my sole regret is that I will never get to relive the experience of reading 'Midnight's Children' for the first time.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2008

    Unbelievably Long !!

    It's very long and the characters aren't that interesting ,it's easy to forget what happened the last 20 pages when you're reading ! I didn't fall in Love with book , i didn't even like it a lot . to be fair it might have something to do with my lack of information about the history of India as the book is deeply connected with it .

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2005

    Good in the beginning... but too long

    The start is very good... one cannot put it aside but as the story goes on it looses interest. I found the first half very good but after that it was hard to read as words were repetitive. I wish it was shorter.. would have conveyed the message better.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2004

    Art is long, life is short

    This is a brilliant and incredibly difficult book. Call me selfish, but I don't have 2 months to read and re-read this book to fully appreciate its message.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2013

    EXCEPTIONAL!!!! MAGIC!!!!! Salman Rushie is a genius of literatu

    EXCEPTIONAL!!!! MAGIC!!!!!
    Salman Rushie is a genius of literature!!! The story is beautiful, the characters are wonderful. The whole novel deals with India and its history, so it would be a good idea to know some key facts about post-colonial India and especially about the period when Nehru and Indira Gandhi were Prime Ministers of India before reading the novel to fully appreciate it. The magic element is a wonderful addition to the story. This novel not only teaches things about India but also conveys great universal values.This is a book you must read at least oncee in your life. I highly recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2012

    Booooooooooooo

    Greatly boring if I could I have it a 0000.1

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2012

    I was snakebit!

    A dip into fantasy that seems like reality. The dreams of the young and the reality of the old. A wonderful story weaved from youth and privledge through old age and poverty. A story of the soul.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2004

    A long journey through Indian history

    I began reading Midnight's Children intimidated by the number of pages and the in-depth and tedious description Rushdie reveals. But eventually the pace began to quicken, and Midnight's Children transforms into a brilliant piece of literature, implementing characteristics of Indian history, and the loss of identity as a result of Indian independence. A great novel for the analytical type.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2004

    hmmmmmmmmm.

    it was a difficult book to read but satisfying. yes it addressed cultural issues, yes it had humour, but i felt confused and slightly put off when the narrator kept digressing.whether or not that was complimenting the theme of fragmentation, i certainly did not waarm to it. its not for the light hearted, but it really throws a light upon Post colonial India and i can say that i have learnt twice as much than i would have through a history book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2014

    Highly Recommended

    Our Book Group considered this the best book it's read in the past two years.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    I was assigned to read and present a two-day presentation on thi

    I was assigned to read and present a two-day presentation on this book in college in 1988. I didn't read books this long back then. But we had partners and mine read it while I did the rest. I got an A and an A on the paper. I've read it at least THREE times since. It is an amazing work. That was an amazing class with a wonderful professor who opened the door to world literature for us and I've been so grateful for that gift ever since. Long books are fine now. Rushdie is a clever author and this novel uses magical realism but also teaches some very important history (more important now than ever). It is worth the time, every time. And wanting to re-read any book has to be a sign of a great book. Plus it is one of the great Booker winners. It's been great to be able to see Rushdie in interviews and for him to be able to keep writing because he was in hiding as The Satanic Verses was out back then and he was in hiding. I don't think we understood at all what that meant then but should have paid closer attention. Our professor thought Midnight's Children was a better book, so we read that. You won't regret it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2013

    Rl REAK Worth it

    A fantastically written book, literally and figuratively

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  • Posted June 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Tortuous and yet completely endearing. I don't think I've ever r

    Tortuous and yet completely endearing. I don't think I've ever read something so involved before. After seeing the movie (which I really enjoyed and which was laid out in a fairly straightforward manner), I was surprised to find the book such a long and winding story. I first imagined that the rambling, meandering thoughts the main character is remembering (he's writing them down) revealed a scatter-brained personality, but before long I was wondering if that's actually how Rushdie's mind works at all times. In other words I'm admitting I haven't read anything else by him. Whatever the answer, this novel showcases a brilliant imagination: one capable of filling the pages with details, character and event nuances, and tangents until the reader's mind is overwhelmed. I can only concentrate on 20-30 pages at a time with this book, but I'm engrossed during those sessions. I've recommended it for my book group, and now extend the suggestion to anyone who loves to read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2013

    Genius and Art

    This is my first Salman Rushdie book and I feel like I've arrived at literary dessert at last. His lush prose and fleet of pen as he travels the reader through time and geography is magical. I shall read everything he has written NOW.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    Worth the read

    Requires a little more thought than the average read, but it is well worth the follow through. The story intertwines India's factual history with fictional events that are as mysterious and magical as only India can be. This book makes for great group discussions.

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  • Posted June 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    It is not an easy read.

    Salman Rushdie seems very knowledgeable and bright. But this novel is not an easy one to get through!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2010

    didn't like it

    It's the second book by Rushdie I've tried to read. I say 'tried' because I disliked them both so much I couldn't even finish the books. I won't be trying another.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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