FIRST PUBLISHED: 1980
GENRE: Magic Realism, Historical Fiction
'Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me…..'
Saleem Sinai, Midnight’s Children.
Midnight's Children, the 2nd book by Salman Rushdie, deals with India's transition from the holds of British Raj to post independence civil struggle, and build-up of the new Indian era—all with a dash of magic. The story revolves around children born at the exact time of India’s partition, during midnight. It has an interesting frictional climax as each and every child born is blessed with some magical power. Saleem Sinai is a brilliant protagonist, created by Rushdie, who is telepathic with a peculiar problem of a constantly running enormous nose and a very strong sense of smell. The story gradually progresses from realizing the powers of all kids like him to organizing the Midnight’s Children conference. He acts as a telepathic conduit, bringing the midnight’s children together and deciphering the meaning of each power.
The book holds you, as it is set amidst real life incidents. It is a journey to India’s past. Through a beautiful literary journey, the reader becomes a part of the making of Modern India. The narration is simple yet captivating. It has a perfect plot with a straight laced protagonist troubled by witty and cunning antagonists. There are a lot of instances where Rushdie skilfully camouflages his questions and conclusions of our nation, in Saleem’s simple thoughts and words. The story is intriguing as it weaves different facets of India as—a British colony; partition and war plagued country and Modern India—a puppet in Indira Gandhi’s political arena—all as important turning points in a common man’s life born with an uncommon fate. Also it successfully conjures a spell of the cultural and traditional diversity that India had and has to offer. The story is not only the sum total of Saleem’s life but is also metaphorically the sum total of India—as we know it today.
Rushdie with his literary brilliance manages to show India as a caged phoenix, pained, and tortured, that burns itself out and rises from the ashes—with not just memories of the past, but also the vision of a bright future. Stories written with the flare to entertain yet educate are the greatest works on literature. Midnight’s Children states the obvious with a new luminosity and a broad outlook. It makes people realize what past tried to teach and what present and future have in store, and also why they need to harness what they have with the right motive.
1. Brilliant narration by Rushdie with great eloquence that opens the bounds of imagery and vocabulary.
2. The life-like events make you believe in this magical fictional tale.
3. The simple characters with heterogeneous personalities show a vast range of feelings that make you cry, laugh, and sympathize with them.
1. Too many characters to remember, as the story develops.
2. Use of too many non-English words would make people refer the glossary every now and then.
On the whole, the book creates a magical country alongside our real India, to help us see the difference yet satiate ourselves with what we are left with by the end of the novel. I see it as one of the most successful retrospections of post colonial India and thus a must read. Clearly a book with accolades of Booker Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the "Booker of Bookers" makes Rushdie a deserving candidate of the Nobel Prize that has eluded him so far.
PAGES: - 446 (hardback)
COST: - Rs. 399/- (hardback)
p.s.- the review is completely my own view about the book...vaisakhi mishra