Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children

eBook - 2010
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Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time Winner of the Booker of Bookers Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India's independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India's 1,000 other "midnight's children," all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts. This novel is at once a fascinating family saga and an astonishing evocation of a vast land and its people--a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy. Twenty-five years after its publication, Midnight's Children stands apart as both an epochal work of fiction and a brilliant performance by one of the great literary voices of our time.
Publisher: [S.I.] : Random House Publishing Group, 2010.
ISBN: 9780307744111
Additional Contributors: Overdrive Inc

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dgiard
May 08, 2020

Saleem Sinai was born at the stroke of midnight on the day that India declared independence from Great Britain. 1,001 Indian children were born within an hour of midnight August 15, 1947 and each of them were gifted with some special power. Saleem's power of reading minds and communicating telepathically manifested itself when he was 10 years old.

In Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children", Saleem tells the story of his life and his family. His parents and grandparents grew up in an age of colonial rule, but Saleem grew up with his country. Significant events in Saleem's life coincide with significant events in India's history. He and his country experience growing pains together. He is conflicted by the different aspects of his personality just as the new nation experiences the difficulty of coordinating the needs of countless cultures.

It is a complex novel with dozens of characters introduced in its 500+ pages.

The narrator (Saleem) often switches between relating his story in the first person and writing about himself in the third person.
He is quick to switch between the present tense and the past tense and the past imperfect tense; while recounting an incident, he will suddenly digress and recount a significant bit of family history; or he will hint about something yet to happen, promising to relay that story later.
He tells the story to his fiancée Padma. Occasionally, the author looks up from his narration and tells her (and us) what he is thinking at that moment or what is going on outside his window. It is as if he is writing down the story as it occurs to him, rather than in any natural order. His stream-of-consciousness narration reads more like an oral history than a novel.

Rushdie addresses love and fidelity and struggles for power and the dangers of centralized authority.

Despite the supernatural ability of many of the characters, Rushdie provides a sense of realism - even bringing in some historically significant characters in India's history.

But the accuracy is not as important as the story and the characters and the way Rushdie weaves together multiple plots and fulfills prophecies and promises - sometimes long after they are made.

"What's real and what's true aren't necessarily the same, " proclaims the narrator.

a
aamcgrath
May 11, 2019

I slogged through "Midnight's Children" for a book group assignment. It's not an easy read, nor did I enjoy it; though some of the passages are funny, like his mom's "wrong number" phone calls, others such as the war section are horrifying. I can't explain why this book won any awards or acclaim. None of the characters are at all likable or sympathetic, the female characters are either hapless or just evil, and the main emotion the book evoked for me was disgust. In brief, I was glad when it was over!

g
GLNovak
Jul 03, 2017

This book is heavy going. I don't mean dark and disturbing, although there are parts that make you shudder. The language is complex; there are numerous characters, some of whom change their name just to confuse you; you need an atlas to keep track of where you are; and mostly, you need a bit of knowledge of the history of the independence and partition of India that created the new Moslem country of Pakistan. I did enjoy the book as I tried to keep up with Saleem and his account of his life as one of the 1001 children born at midnight on India's independence day. These children represented the new India and all the possibilities that flowed from the new freedom. Each had special powers, Saleem's being the ability to communicate with all of them at a distance through his mind. He had hopes that the group would work for a better India, but of course not all the children were of like mind, especially Shiva. Reading this novel is challenging and not for everyone's taste, but I felt the effort, and the four weeks I put in, were worth it.

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NavanPurba
Nov 02, 2016

I would recommend this book to people with a high reading level. Great vocabulary and a great story line. it took me a couple of chapters to understand the book, but after that, amazing. Award winning literature!

r
rusty_13
Jul 30, 2016

If you can get past the premise of this story (which is rather ridiculous), you'll be rewarded with a wonderfully engaging tale that both entertains and teaches something of India's history.

k
kityojames
Jan 11, 2016

This book, is meant for people with an elevated level of perception. At the time of my reading it for the first time, I had not yet attained that level. Hopefully I can understand it later. It requires a lot of commitment and wit to write a book so complex as this and an added patience to read it and understand most of it.

kevinpaul Oct 21, 2014

I have just had to put a second hold on this gem so I can finish it. I've complained about how difficult it is. At times I felt like I was making to progress. But it is wonderful and I cannot stop until I finish. It's not for everybody, but many will fall in love with it.

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BethHawley
Feb 01, 2014

Gail Von Oxlade's Favourite Book

geezr_rdr Jun 24, 2013

Maybe this is supposed to be a Catch-22 style description on India's history and partition, but I did not enjoy the prose style and totally missed any insight by this (revierered) author. Very hard to get through and definitely not worth the effort.

m
MCinnamon
Mar 05, 2013

This is one of the most difficult yet satisfying reads i have had in years. Its layer upon layer of metaphors to represent the rise and fall of the main character Saleem as compared to his twin sister, the country of India itself, who were both born on midnight aug 15, 1957. The turbulent times is reflected in Saleems life. Themes of sound, exile, mirror actions, the family nucleus, parts being broken, and parts seen to represent the whole person enterweve between the two. Its a story about a boy growing with the story of India written on his face... literally. While reading this novel keep a note pad available and write down characters names or else you will get lost. There is some 100 plus characters that move the plot along, and some of these characters change their name along the way to further confuse you. The main story is 1000 people born the hour India gets its independance from England, and each has their own power or magic that sets them apart from normal people. Saleems power is to be able to talk to anyone at a distance... even thousands of miles away. It explores the possibility of these new breed of people and what they can do to make a better India, but will India let them. If this book is too much for you then try reading JOHN WYNDHAM - THE CRYSALIDS. Rushdie actually took his initial idea for this novel from that one, a 1950 sci-fi novel about kids growing in a post apocholypse society where anyone who is different if ostricized (ie.. kill the mutant). Its on the grade 9 reading list so is a light read. Rushdie is too much for the average reader, but is still an excellent book that i highly recommend.

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