Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children

by Salman Rushdie

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812976533
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/04/2006
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 59,155
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Sir SALMAN RUSHDIE is the multi-award winning author of eleven previous novels—Luka and the Fire of Life, Grimus, Midnight's Children (which won the Booker Prize, 1981, and the Best of the Booker Prize, 2008), Shame,The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor's Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown and The Enchantress of Florence—and one collection of short stories, East, West. He has also published three works of non-fiction: The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 and Step Across This Line, and coedited two anthologies, Mirrorwork and Best American Short Stories 2008. His memoir, Joseph Anton, published in 2012, became an internationally acclaimed bestseller. It was praised as "the finest memoir...in many a year" (The Washington Post). His books have been translated into over forty languages. He is a former president of American PEN.

Hometown:

New York, New York

Date of Birth:

June 19, 1947

Place of Birth:

Bombay, Maharashtra, India

Education:

M.A. in History, King's College, University of Cambridge

Read an Excerpt

The Perforated Sheet
 
I WAS BORN in the city of Bombay … once upon a time. No, that won’t do, there’s no getting away from the date: I was born in Doctor Narlikar’s Nursing Home on August 15th, 1947. And the time? The time matters, too. Well then: at night. No, it’s important to be more … On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clock-hands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came. Oh, spell it out, spell it out: at the precise instant of India’s arrival at independence, I tumbled forth into the world. There were gasps. And, outside the window, fireworks and crowds. A few seconds later, my father broke his big toe; but his accident was a mere trifle when set beside what had befallen me in that benighted moment, because thanks to the occult tyrannies of those blandly saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country. For the next three decades, there was to be no escape. Soothsayers had prophesied me, newspapers celebrated my arrival, politicos ratified my authenticity. I was left entirely without a say in the matter. I, Saleem Sinai, later variously called Snotnose, Stainface, Baldy, Sniffer, Buddha and even Piece-of-the-Moon, had become heavily embroiled in Fate—at the best of times a dangerous sort of involvement. And I couldn’t even wipe my own nose at the time.
 
Now, however, time (having no further use for me) is running out. I will soon be thirty-one years old. Perhaps. If my crumbling, overused body permits. But I have no hope of saving my life, nor can I count on having even a thousand nights and a night. I must work fast, faster than Scheherazade, if I am to end up meaning—yes, meaning— something. I admit it: above all things, I fear absurdity.
 
And there are so many stories to tell, too many, such an excess of intertwined lives events miracles places rumors, so dense a commingling of the improbable and the mundane! I have been a swallower of lives; and to know me, just the one of me, you’ll have to swallow the lot as well. Consumed multitudes are jostling and shoving inside me; and guided only by the memory of a large white bedsheet with a roughly circular hole some seven inches in diameter cut into the center, clutching at the dream of that holey, mutilated square of linen, which is my talisman, my open-sesame, I must commence the business of remaking my life from the point at which it really began, some thirty-two years before anything as obvious, as present, as my clock-ridden, crime-stained birth.
 
(The sheet, incidentally, is stained too, with three drops of old, faded redness. As the Quran tells us: Recite, in the name of the Lord thy Creator, who created Man from clots of blood.)
 
 
One Kashmiri morning in the early spring of 1915, my grandfather Aadam Aziz hit his nose against a frost-hardened tussock of earth while attempting to pray. Three drops of blood plopped out of his left nostril, hardened instantly in the brittle air and lay before his eyes on the prayer-mat, transformed into rubies. Lurching back until he knelt with his head once more upright, he found that the tears which had sprung to his eyes had solidified, too; and at that moment, as he brushed diamonds contemptuously from his lashes, he resolved never again to kiss earth for any god or man. This decision, however, made a hole in him, a vacancy in a vital inner chamber, leaving him vulnerable to women and history. Unaware of this at first, despite his recently completed medical training, he stood up, rolled the prayer-mat into a thick cheroot, and holding it under his right arm surveyed the valley through clear, diamond-free eyes.
 
The world was new again. After a winter’s gestation in its eggshell of ice, the valley had beaked its way out into the open, moist and yellow. The new grass bided its time underground; the mountains were retreating to their hill-stations for the warm season. (In the winter, when the valley shrank under the ice, the mountains closed in and snarled like angry jaws around the city on the lake.)
 
In those days the radio mast had not been built and the temple of Sankara Acharya, a little black blister on a khaki hill, still dominated the streets and lake of Srinagar. In those days there was no army camp at the lakeside, no endless snakes of camouflaged trucks and jeeps clogged the narrow mountain roads, no soldiers hid behind the crests of the mountains past Baramulla and Gulmarg. In those days travellers were not shot as spies if they took photographs of bridges, and apart from the Englishmen’s houseboats on the lake, the valley had hardly changed since the Mughal Empire, for all its springtime renewals; but my grandfather’s eyes—which were, like the rest of him, twenty-five years old—saw things differently … and his nose had started to itch.
 
To reveal the secret of my grandfather’s altered vision: he had spent five years, five springs, away from home. (The tussock of earth, crucial though its presence was as it crouched under a chance wrinkle of the prayer-mat, was at bottom no more than a catalyst.) Now, returning, he saw through travelled eyes. Instead of the beauty of the tiny valley circled by giant teeth, he noticed the narrowness, the proximity of the horizon; and felt sad, to be at home and feel so utterly enclosed. He also felt—inexplicably—as though the old place resented his educated, stethoscoped return. Beneath the winter ice, it had been coldly neutral, but now there was no doubt; the years in Germany had returned him to a hostile environment. Many years later, when the hole inside him had been clogged up with hate, and he came to sacrifice himself at the shrine of the black stone god in the temple on the hill, he would try and recall his childhood springs in Paradise, the way it was before travel and tussocks and army tanks messed everything up.
 
On the morning when the valley, gloved in a prayer-mat, punched him on the nose, he had been trying, absurdly, to pretend that nothing had changed. So he had risen in the bitter cold of four-fifteen, washed himself in the prescribed fashion, dressed and put on his father’s astrakhan cap; after which he had carried the rolled cheroot of the prayer-mat into the small lakeside garden in front of their old dark house and unrolled it over the waiting tussock. The ground felt deceptively soft under his feet and made him simultaneously uncertain and unwary. “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful …”—the exordium, spoken with hands joined before him like a book, comforted a part of him, made another, larger part feel uneasy—“… Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Creation …”—but now Heidelberg invaded his head; here was Ingrid, briefly his Ingrid, her face scorning him for this Mecca-turned parroting; here, their friends Oskar and Ilse Lubin the anarchists, mocking his prayer with their anti-ideologies—“… The Compassionate, the Merciful, King of the Last Judgment! …”—Heidelberg, in which, along with medicine and politics, he learned that India—like radium—had been “discovered” by the Europeans; even Oskar was filled with admiration for Vasco da Gama, and this was what finally separated Aadam Aziz from his friends, this belief of theirs that he was somehow the invention of their ancestors—“… You alone we worship, and to You alone we pray for help …”—so here he was, despite their presence in his “head, attempting to reunite himself with an earlier self which ignored their influence but knew everything it ought to have known, about submission for example, about what he was doing now, as his hands, guided by old memories, fluttered upwards, thumbs pressed to ears, fingers spread, as he sank to his knees—“… Guide us to the straight path, The path of those whom You have favored …” But it was no good, he was caught in a strange middle ground, trapped between belief and disbelief, and this was only a charade after all—“… Not of those who have incurred Your wrath, Nor of those who have gone astray.” My grandfather bent his forehead towards the earth. Forward he bent, and the earth, prayer-mat-covered, curved up towards him. And now it was the tussock’s time. At one and the same time a rebuke from Ilse-Oskar-Ingrid-Heidelberg as well as valley-and-God, it smote him upon the point of the nose. Three drops fell. There were rubies and diamonds. And my grandfather, lurching upright, made a resolve. Stood. Rolled cheroot. Stared across the lake. And was knocked forever into that middle place, unable to worship a God in whose existence he could not wholly disbelieve. Permanent alteration: a hole.
 
The young, newly-qualified Doctor Aadam Aziz stood facing the springtime lake, sniffing the whiffs of change; while his back (which was extremely straight) was turned upon yet more changes. His father had had a stroke in his absence abroad, and his mother had kept it a secret. His mother’s voice, whispering stoically: “… Because your studies were too important, son.” This mother, who had spent her life housebound, in purdah, had suddenly found enormous strength and gone out to run the small gemstone business (turquoises, rubies, diamonds) which had put Aadam through medical college, with the help of a scholarship; so he returned to find the seemingly immutable order of his family turned upside down, his mother going out to work while his father sat hidden behind the veil which the stroke had dropped over his brain … in a wooden chair, in a darkened room, he sat and made bird-noises. Thirty different species of birds visited him and sat on the sill outside his shuttered window conversing about this and that. He seemed happy enough.
 

Table of Contents

Book One 1(138)
The Perforated Sheet
3(18)
Mercurochrome
21(16)
Hit-the-Spittoon
37(18)
Under the Carpet
55(16)
A Public Announcement
71(18)
Many-headed Monsters
89(16)
Methwold
105(18)
Tick, Tock
123(16)
Book Two 139(272)
The Fisherman's Pointing Finger
141(20)
Snakes and Ladders
161(16)
Accident in a Washing-chest
177(20)
All-India Radio
197(18)
Love in Bombay
215(16)
My Tenth Birthday
231(18)
At the Pioneer Cafe
249(18)
Alpha and Omega
267(18)
The Kolynos Kid
285(18)
Commander Sabarmati's Baton
303(18)
Revelations
321(18)
Movements Performed by Pepperpots
339(14)
Drainage and the Desert
353(14)
Jamila Singer
367(24)
How Saleem Achieved Purity
391(20)
Book Three 411(2)
The Buddha
413(18)
In the Sundarbans
431(16)
Sam and the Tiger
447(12)
The Shadow of the Mosque
459(24)
A Wedding
483(20)
Midnight
503(26)
Abracadabra
529

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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Midnight's Children 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 125 reviews.
WWCEBC More than 1 year ago
"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. * * *
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Bookworm026 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Our Book Group considered this the best book it's read in the past two years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Warning: Although I will try to restrain myself, I may gush without warning. I was entranced from the first sentences: I was born in the city of Bombay¿ once upon a time. No, that won¿t do, there¿s no getting away from the date: I was born in Doctor Narlikar¿s Nursing Home on August 15th, 1947. And the time? The time matters, too. Well then: at night. No, it¿s important to be more¿ On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clockhands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came. Oh, spell it out, spell it out: at the precise instant of India¿s arrival at independence, I tumbled forth into the world.The only question in my mind from that point was whether Rushdie could sustain that magical voice through over 500 pages. The answer is yes. This is one of the most impressive and immersive books I've read in years. The prose style is as lyrical as a Margaret Atwood but with something I've missed in those books of hers I've read. Something missing in almost all books stamped as literary fiction--a sense of humor. The book has touches of modernist techniques and styles I'd often find off-putting, particularly of the TMI, scatological, Rabelaisian kind that usually makes me wrinkle my nose, along with a protagonist and narrator who, if not exactly unsympathetic, you couldn't by any means call a hero. Rushdie gets away with it because he gave Saleem Sinai a beguiling voice. Rushdie says in the introduction he was trying for a tone "comically assertive, unrelentingly garrulous" but with more than a touch of pathos. He succeeded. And in pairing his often hapless comic character with modern independent India Rushdie managed to give me a sense of the country and the forces that pushed and pulled the nation and its individual people. I've been aware of Rushdie as a celebrated writer for decades, and whenever I've heard him quoted have found I've liked him for what he's said. A guy celebrated by the literati with the ability to admit he's a fan of JK Rowling's Harry Potter and her character Severus Snape? But it made me feel some trepidation about trying him--both the stellar literary reputation and that I liked his persona. What if I was disappointed? All I can say is my one disappointment is that I didn't read him years ago. I have a lot to catch up on now.
deebee1 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Brilliant, extraordinary, Rushdie is a storyteller par excellence and he truly dazzles in this epic tale. The novel begins at the stroke of midnight 15 Aug 1947, we are in Bombay and witness to the birth of one Saleem Sinai which coincides with the exact moment of India's independence from British colonial rule and the creation of the new state, Pakistan. Within that magical hour of midnight a thousand other children were born. Gifted with extrasensory powers, they are midnight's children, and as destined, their fate will be intertwined with that of their country. Sinai's own gift is his oft-ridiculed ugly nose through which he can ¿smell¿his way into other people's thoughts. This is how he learns about many things including certain dark secrets such as the realization that he was not who he thought he was. Sinai here, is a storyteller and from him, we travel across time, from his grandparents' romance up to his own 31st birthday, and across India and Pakistan during this tumultous and exhilarating infancy phase of the two nations. We are carried away in a hallucinatory and dizzying fashion into the midst of great events and conflicts, into the minute but never boring details of people's lives --- his own family's, his neighbors, into the minds of politicians and millitary leaders, into the enlightened conferences he holds mentally with the other magical children, into his roller-coaster incredible life when he leaves for Pakistan and later, on his return to India. Rushdie's prose is vivid and intensely sensory, with a stark humor that is underlined with sensitivity, and throughout, characterized by rich metaphor and an extreme and superb playfulness with words and expression which only the best of writers dare or are able to do. This book is a grand celebration, an indictment, a history, a biography, a metaphor, a literary tour de force. Rushdie, in this tale, brings magico-realism, as well as non-linear narration to another level. Either you will love this book or hate it, and intensely either way. I loved this book even better than One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I thought was difficult to top when I read it two decades (!) ago. Why I waited this long to read this book, I honestly don't know.
stephmo on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Midnight's Children has been a challenge to read for the last few weeks. At times I wondered how a novel full of children blessed with varying magical powers for being born at midnight on the day of India's birth as a post-colonial nation, the history of a family fraught with its own destinies and secrets, the very history of India, a burgeoning love story and a story of an obsession with pickles could really ever meld together.How? It's an alchemy of magical realism, a narrator who carries with him a certain amount of admitted unreliability and a character who serves to remind our narrator that there are interested readers attempting to get through a story. Painted on the canvas of postcolonial India with a brush under the direction of Salman Rushdie, this all comes together and becomes a worth-while endeavor.
writestuff on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Salman Rushdie¿s Booker Prize winning novel Midnight¿s Children is the story of a nation narrated by Saleem Sinai who embodies the history of India by being born at the exact moment of India¿s independence (August 15, 1947). Other children, also born between midnight and one o¿clock on this day, discover they are able to telepathically communicate with each other.In fact, all over the new India, the dream we all shared, children were being born who were only partially the offspring of their parents - the children of midnight were also the children of the time: fathered, you understand, by history. It can happen. Especially in a country which is itself a sort of dream. - from Midnight¿s Children, page 132 -The novel is allegorical, narrated in the first person, and spans more than sixty years from before Saleem is born until he is thirty years old. Saleem¿s voice is arrogant, satirical and tangential.Family history, of course, has its proper dietary laws. One is supposed to swallow and digest only the permitted parts of it, the halal portions of the past, drained of their redness, their blood. Unfortunately this makes the stories less juicy; so I am about to become the first and only member of my family to flout the laws of halal. Letting no blood escape from the body of the tale, I arrive at the unspeakable part; and, undaunted press on. - from Midnight¿s Children, page 62 -Although difficult to follow at times, Rushdie¿s sense of humor was one of the aspects of the novel I enjoyed.Poor Padma. Things are getting her goat. Perhaps even her name: understandably enough, since her mother told her, when she was small, that she had been named after the lotus goddess, whose most common appellation amojngst village folk is ¿The One Who Possesses Dung.¿ - from Midnight¿s Children, page 20 -Despite these light moments, Midnight¿s Children is not a light read. I really struggled to finish this book - and my feelings about it are mixed. Rushdie¿s prose is full of symbolism, analogies, magical realism and the complex history of India. The book has multiple themes (the individual vs. the masses and destruction vs. creation to name two). It is also full of numerous characters - some minor, some major and everything in between. I often found myself scratching my head trying to understand it all.Important to concentrate on good hard facts. But which facts? One week before my eighteenth birthday, on August 8th, did Pakistani troops in civilian clothing cross the cease-fire line in Kashmir and infiltrate the Indian sector, or did they not? In Delhi, Prime Minister Shastri announced ¿massive infiltration¿to subvert the state¿; but here is Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan¿s Foreign Minister, with his riposte: ¿We categorically deny any involvement in the rising against tyranny by the indigenous people of Kashmir.¿ - from Midnight¿s Children, page 387 -Rushdie is obviously brilliant. He knows how to tell a story. And yet I did not really enjoy reading this book and there are very few people to whom I could recommend it. If you are a person with some understanding of Indian culture and history and who loves symbolic stories filled with elements of magical realism, you might want to give Midnight¿s Children a try. I am told it is one of his more accessible novels. If that is true, I don¿t think I¿ll be reading any more Rushdie in the near future.
stixnstones004 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I think that this novel may very well be the best piece of contemporary literature that I have EVER read. In fact, it ranks in the top ten books from ANY time period. Rushdie's ingenious plays on words and unbelievable prowess and originality in storytelling is unrivalled in this century. The character of Saleem is one of the most human characters in all of literature, and his imperfect, or errata, narration only helps the reader see just how human he is. I have never read a novel in which the narrator explicitly says that what he is saying may be mistaken or even completely made up, because memory is in no way a reliable source for facts and historical happenings. In hindsight, we look back on a world that in many ways has been made up in our heads, that we have made better (or worse) without even realizing that we have added our own spin on reality. This book even caused me to realize things about myself, and my reality, and to understand the absolute fallability of memory and, consequentially, the absolute objectivity of history. There is no one history, but instead as many histories as there are people in the world. As someone who hopes to one day publish their own work, I can only hope to learn from Rushdie's genius, and if I am ever compared to him in any way, I couldn't be anything but gratified.
P_S_Patrick on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This being the most acclaimed of Rushdies books, I was expecting to enjoy it, that and for the reason that I'd enjoyed the last six of his books that I've read. I found this book to have the most in common with the Moor's Last Sigh,out of the other books from this author, there is quite a considerable focus on the fortunes of the protagonist's family, over a number of generations, and it is predominantly set in India. I would say it ranks as my joint second favourite book of his, along with the previously mentioned title. I don't know quite what I was expecting more of, but this book somehow failed to quite live up to what I was anticipating, just. It recently was voted the best of the booker prize winners in the last 40 years, or something like that, but for me it wasn't as good a read as the Satanic Verses, though I have read none of the other winners, so I can't compare it to them. It is written well, and the plot is good, but it didn't stir my imagination in quite the same way. It is in a different league to some of his other books, but I would not rate it even as my best read of the year so far, (Lempriere's Dictionary). Despite all this, I would reccomend it heartily, and especially to anyone who has not yet read any of Rushdie, or has not made their mind up about him yet.What the book has going for it is the ambitious plot, the creative way that it is written, and the excellent imagination that has gone into it. On all three of these things though, it is bested by the Satanic Verses in my opinion, marginally, except the plot, where it is far outshone. You should enjoy this book if you have an interest in India, which comes across to me as a fascinating place, with an intersting culture. I would also reccomend this book to those who like something out of the ordinary.
Iralell on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Magical realism. A strange and ironically funny book. The main character was born on the stroke of midnight on the day that India declared its independence. He lives a bizarre life with uncanny paralells to the history of his country.
moonstormer on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I decided to read Midnight's Children because I had heard wonderful things about Salman Rushdie's writing, and particularly about this book. I was not disappointed. It was a beautiful read through and through, with an expansive plot and incredible imagery. The repetition of symbols and concepts was cleverly done and the narrative tone was remarkable. Perhaps because of the richness of the book, it took me longer than usual to get through it, even though I was enjoying every moment of reading it. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in beautiful writing, stories about family, or for those who want an interesting view on the Indian subcontinent.
MeditationesMartini on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Magic realism? Well, I dunno. More like alchemical realism, where each situation is transient, each environment has an element introduced into it that forces a chemical - maybe a magical - change. Or mythic realism, because I went through kind of thinking Rushdie was burying the lede here, taking a simple, affecting, brave new story about a brother and a sister, and a conference of children with the most fantastic of mutant powers and boundless unity - the myth that India needs - and drowning it in all this family memoir and sounds-and-smells colour and historical minutiae and nonsense. Because if Ireland is a day about town, Ancient Greece is the Olympics, America is a sports movie, China is a heavenly bureaucracy and Japan is a company, what is India but a legion of superheroes? But then it's like, don't be such a callow enthusiast, McCarvill. Recall VS Naipaul and his spit spit spittery about India and her prospects. She's not a legion of superheroes - not a DC team - she's a Marvel team, a ragbag collection of brilliant misfits born under a bad sign (Midnight's Children because they were born at midnight on the day of Indian independence), lurching from Days of Future Past to Civil War to disaster to renewal. This is a book about how each generation dies unfulfilled, and how that's ultimately no big deal because the more powerful cliche is "hope springs eternal." And in fecund India, there is no shortage of new generations of special children waiting to be born - as many children as gods and as many gods as children - and the river flows on and so we get back to Marquez and magic realism in a way. This is a great book.
shushokan on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I feel ashamed to even comment on such a fantastic book. How can my poor words do justice to a jewel of this magnitude. Still, it's just possible that this may be the review that makes someone else pick it up and so here we go... Post-modernism, magical realism come together in this torrent of surprises to keep you hooked throughout is length. The writing is beautiful and redolent of the sights and smells of real India. Set your mind to Open and start at the first page.
ChelleBearss on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Saleem Sinai is born on the stroke of midnight. No, not just the stroke of midnight but also the stroke of India's independence. The Indian government has declared that any child born on the stroke of midnight at the hour of India's independence will be a special child. This sets the stage of Saleem's life, a special child who forms a group with the other special children, The Midnight's Children. These children turn out to be more special than the Indian government would want and Saleem's life is a tumultuous event from beginning to end.Saleem tells the tale of his pathetic, turbulent life; a life he needs to tell about before he breaks into pieces as he can already feel the cracks forming. He tells the tale of a half deaf, cucumber snot nosed boy living someone else's life. For almost thirty-one years he rides the waves of India's political ups and downs and those of his family as well.I can't tell you if I like this book as I still don't know. Too many times I wanted to put it down and walk away completely but then I would think about it again and pick it right back up. It is a difficult read, very dense and written in a way that made me reread sentences before they would make any sense. It is hard to like Saleem, I found him rather whiny and his childhood nickname "snot nose" suits him in more ways than one, but not hard to want to find out where his life takes him and what the ending will be. There were parts that I laughed at and parts that made me cringe. I guess that's the sign of a good book when you feel strong emotions like wanting to hurl the book across the room but at the same time need to know the ending.
Becky444 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Rushdie's finest book, the one he poured his soul into. Politics, history, humor and the finest prose. A wonder.
bfertig on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Midnight's Children is a really well told epic. The main character, Saleem Senai narrates this book as his autobiography yet it takes about a third of the way through to even get to his birth! Saleem recounts his families tale all the way back with his grandfather and tells the story of just about every character that interacts with his family in any way. Like I said: epic. Saleem is born at the stroke of midnight on the morning of the creation of the state of India and his fate is tied to that of India - he symbolizes India (or does he?) - while imbued with magical powers due to the fate and circumstances of his birth. In fact, there is a whole suite of characters who were born in that fateful midnight hour that also have magical powers - though I do wish more was done with this aspect; those looking for a cross between the movies Ghandhi and X-Men will be disappointed. That being said, the book is stuffed with so much rich symbolism, metaphor, allusion and prophecy/fortune-telling foreshadowing so that as the story unfurls, each piece is alluded to, comes into focus and is then prismatically interpreted and reinterpreted. Calling this book anything but great literature must itself be an ironic twist. Yet I don't have a good enough grasp of Indian history and culture - certainly aside from what little I learned of Mohandas Ghandi - to get some of the references. There was a section in the book about a nightmare with a witch claws and talons and green and black that was repeated in various iterations. It was a very convoluted sequence that made no sense to the reader at that point in the book - it appeared to come out of nowhere was completely incomprehensible. Later on, of course, it was explained and the reference to Indira Ghandhi became clear and the narrator tells of how he and the other Children of Midnight had been castrated, their magical powers taken away, and many died. Obviously, at best this is metaphorical for *something* in Indian history, since the Children of Midnight are fictional. But without knowledge outside of the book, I still have no idea what exactly Rushdie was condemning. This has been nagging me mildly. At the preface, Rushdie notes that in general Midnight's Children was a success and that while there was some amount of controversy, Indira Ghandi had only been ticked off about a small portion of it, presumably being called a two-faced witch that ordered crimes against humanity. It would be great to learn more... but where is the time? Nevertheless, with or without a history lesson, this was a book I looked forward to getting a chance to read and get back to the story each time I picked it up.
novelcommentary on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This was quite an experience. I knew that I admired the writing of Salman Rushdie when I read his more recent novel, The Enchantress of Florence. I found that unique combination of magical realism and storytelling that I have enjoyed in others, particularly G.G.Marquez. So when I read that this novel was voted the best of best in the Booker Prize Awards, I knew I was going to have to add this to my reading journal. Rushdie does an amazing job of tying the story of Saleem Sinai, who was born on the midnight of India¿s independence, to the history of his country¿s struggles from 1947 to 1975. I will include a brief Amazon summary here for reference:Saleem Sinai was born at midnight, the midnight of India's independence, and found 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 ear and wildly sensitive sense of smell - we are drawn into a fascinating family saga set against the vast, colorful background of the India of the 20th centuryI found it interesting, educational and sometimes downright necessary to put a little work into reading this. Having my laptop ready for Google references as to the historical elements of the novel made for a better understanding of the author¿s allegorical elements. My understanding of the Partition of India and the Indo- Pakistani War of 1965 will be forever linked to Saleem¿s vantage point. Saleem later becomes involved with the Indira Gandhi-proclaimed Emergency and her son Sanjay's "cleansing" of the Jama Masjid slum. Although for me the history learned was secondary to the language. I enjoyed the eccentric cast of characters and the settings; this is where the writing can be most appreciated. I would certainly recommend this author to others; there is challenge but with that there is a great reward.
andreablythe on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Midnight's Children is the story of the 1,001 children who were born in the midnight hour of India's independence. Through Saleem, who was born at the stroke of midnight, we learn that each of these children was endowed with unique gifts of varying degrees of usefulness. Saleem has the ability to read all the minds of the people of India, and in this way can make each of the children aware of him and each other.But that's not the whole story. Saleem draws great significance from his midnight birth, believing it signifies that his life is tied to the fate of the country. He points out how the small, seemingly insignificant events of of his life have had great impact on his chosen country, often intoning that it is all his fault. But that's not the story either. The story is about how his grandfather fell in love with a woman through a hole in a sheet, how his mother loved the man in the basement, how his father always reeked of failure, how Saleem loved a girl who loved his best friend. Midnight's Children is an epic and immense tale, drawing in the fate of an entire country, and yet is also an intimate and personal tale of a boy who expects too much of himself and all the people -- family, friends, enemies -- who surround him. Rushdie is an amazing writer with a very poetic style, and he fills these pages with complex characters, full of goodness and ugliness and beauty and kindness and cruelty. He blends the supernatural and the surreal into the everyday, making it entirely believable. I wanted to love this novel, but perhaps the scope is too large, perhaps there's just too much to take in. I wanted to love it, but I just couldn't quite. It couldn't be anything other than what it is. To try to remove the grand scope of the story the parallel of personal and political, it wouldn't have the same power and effect, and yet, however wonderful it was, I can only say that I liked it.