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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.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9780307744111
List price: $12.99
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I was not even halfway through when i gave up reading this novel.I got really fed up, annoyed and lost all my patience.This doesn't mean the novel was very bad it was because Salman Rusdie's way of writing was very high(????) that i had to read it twice to understand the characters and the story beneath it.I gave 5 stars for his unique way of writing because he has made it sure that the readers doesn't know what they were really reading.It was a surprise to me why this novel got Booker-prize award.The enthusiasm that was there before reading the book was totally spoiled after reading.more
Why nobody else but me should pay attention to my rating or review, and should just ignore everything I say:I’m reviewing this and “finished” this book only because I do that for all my real world book club books. I cheated. If I had a did not finish or abandoned shelf, I’d have used it, and not poorly plowed my way through the book. I speed read the book and I’m not a champion speed reader, so I wasn’t being fair to the book and cannot do it justice when talking about it. I missed a lot, including some whats and hows and whys. I was not in the mood to read it. I think it’s possible if I hadn’t felt rushed to read it and had been in the mood for it, I might have appreciated it more. It’s likely I’ll never get back to it though, but writing these review notes are to remind me about it and to help me to decide whether to reread it sometime in the future. I don’t feel guilty about improperly skewing the book’s Goodreads’ stats because it has so many ratings and reviews. It’s not this book’s fault that I was overwhelmed and frazzled and had a pile of books I would have preferred to read. The book never drew me in; I just wanted it to be over.The bad:I stayed up late to finish it, not because I couldn’t put it down but because I wanted to put it down for good.I have liked magical realism in some books but it’s never been a favorite sub-genre of mine. Here, for me it took away from the story. I’d have rather had a straight story novel, or even a non-fiction book about India’s history and independence. I didn’t care about or get attached to the characters, and the narrator drove me crazy with his way of storytelling.I printed out a character list to help me keep things straight, but found it wasn’t at all comprehensive and I looked at it only several times.While some of the language was lovely, I didn’t like the way the story was told.I love “twin” stories and switched at birth stories, but not this one, although for me, for a bit of time, the book got more interesting when the children finally got to age ten. When the narrator discovered them and they discovered each other, fairly interesting. But, the whole book was a slow crawl, filled with digressions, some of which I found superfluous. This book, partly because of a narrator talking about times as though there when not during his lifetime, reminded me of some other books I’ve read with my book club, including Middlesex and Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and I think some others whose titles are now escaping me, but all books I enjoyed more, except for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, another rare one of our books I haven’t enjoyed, and the only other of our books I “skipped through” as rapidly as I could, and another one that had me amazed I didn’t love it.The good:This is the Booker winner of all the Booker Prize winners, and I have other winners on my shelf I really want to read.It has many, many beautifully written passages.My edition has an introduction to the 25th anniversary edition by the author, and he gives some background on what’s real, what’s fictionalized, how the book was received by people in the west vs. India, and by Indira Ghandi; all that was interesting information.It’s brilliantly ambitious.So, in summary: This book was not my cup of tea but I think it might have been me, me at the time I was reading it.more
One of the best books I read in college and the best book of Rushdie's from what I've read. He has the magical realism of Marquez with Dickens's eye for detailed character descriptions, and his own perfect blend of history and plot.more
This was awarded the "Booker of Bookers". For me, Midnight's Children is my "Favorite of Favorites". Pure Gold.more
So I was madly in love with this book during undergrad, and now that I've reread it for book group, I'm less in love. Yes, there is a lot to talk about, and yes, there was a lot to write about for my Post Colonial Lit class, but, frankly, this book is overwhelming. I don't have time to dig up that much history and that much Hindu mythology, among other things, to really delve into this one.more
Big rich sprawling novel, filled with intertwined meanings and characters and events.more
This definitely qualifies as "Literature," complete with themes, motifs, allusions, metaphors, etc. It's the story of a man who was born on the stroke of midnight the night India gained it's Independence from Britain, and gains magical powers (telepathy) from that coincidence. Things that happen to him happen to, or are echoed in what happens to India, and vice versa.

I listened to the audio version and the performance is fantastic. Lots and lots of frenetic energy in the appropriate places, then the calmer sections when that's appropriate. The only problem with it being an audio book is that you can't really go back and look at previous sections easily - going back a few minutes is easy and I did that a lot, but I couldn't go back, say, several hours to find the time when another situation was phrased in the exact same way as the current one.

It did have periods that seem a bit slow - especially when it was recounting the historical events in India/Pakistan. But I think the reason that those didn't work as well for me was my complete ignorance of the subject.

I liked it a lot. Lots of little "ah! that's cool!" moments when he pulls off some literary trick, and very entertaining on a plot/humor level - 4/5 stars - and I think I'd give it that 5th star if I would read up on India's history then re-read it in paper (rather than audio) so I can go back and forth more, because I KNOW that there's lots of layers to the story that I didn't catch - there's just not time to notice everything in an audio book.more
This year I pretty much stopped reading. Instead I watched hundreds of Bollywood movies. This is no exaggeration: I ran through the netflix offerings, found them on youtube, bought them in little Indian markets, and ordered them online. I was partly enthralled by the things that enthrall westerners about Bollywood - the colors! the music! the mashed-together plots! the crazed optimism! - but also by the sheer sweep of history revealed by these light-hearted movies. In school, I think our teachers covered the subject of India by mentioning the Indus Valley civilization and then showing us Gandhi. The scope of my ignorance, once revealed, was astonishing to me. The partition of Pakistan, the conflict in Kashmir, the linguistic and ethnic divides in India, the extent of the British occupation, anything at all about Hinduism - all this I learned about from movies, which I guess is a sorry statement about both the US educational system and my own short-sightedness.

In my shame, I remembered trying to read 'Midnight's Children' in high school, because I was pretentious, mostly. I didn't understand anything about it, though I didn't admit that, of course. Now - thanks to Veer Zaara, Dil Se, Rang de Basanti, and Fanaa - I was ready to tackle this book again, with more of a grasp on what Rushdie was trying to describe.

And, oh. This book, like a great masala film, with funerals and weddings (you have to have both!) and tragedy and crazed, dogged optimism, unfurling without restraint, digressions leading into digressions and fantasy blended with reality. It's a great book. Unjust to compare it to a song-and-dance movie? Maybe it's more unfair to describe this story as Literature, and thus put it up on a high shelf out of the reach of the rabble.more
This begins in India, while it was still a colony. Although the story has the day of their Independence as a central component, it isn't so much about Indian history as it is about how that affected various people the author has created. I am sad, but I have to quit reading this book. I think that ten years ago, it would have been a book I could immerse myself in, but at this time I don't have the patience for the author's style. It is like sitting and listening to an old man rambling. He digresses here, there, and everywhere. I'm not saying this is bad, it is simply a style I cannot be happy reading at this time. The author has a gift for settings and characters. They leap to life in his words. In my opinion he talks too much about his penis, but maybe that won't bother others. Still, don't let my review discourage you from trying this book. I think it may be the next best thing to actually going to India.more
Saleem is born on the same stroke of midnight when India becomes independent from Great Britain in 1947. For the rest of his life he sees parallels between the events that happen to him personally and his nation's history that reach back to before he was born. There are grand metaphors at work (apparently I've missed many of these) and a wide cast of family and their acquaintances, covering the period up to 1978.An untrustworthy narrator overly full of himself, a wandering narrative, a story full of bizarre elements that never manage to engage ... Tragedy without pathos, almost unrelieved by comedy. Filled with bald foreshadowing that drains the plot of tension, a novel you can easily substitute with googling the history of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Only the loose framing story inspired my interest, though I read all the way to the end. I'll keep reading positive reviews in hopes of feeling it was worth it.Edit: ... from which I gather the point is that India's politics and culture are too foreign to the Western mind, thus requiring a magic realism approach. Does the fizzling out of those elements represent a discarding of India's mystical past as it embraces a Westernized future, or abandonment of the early promise its independence extolled? It's up to the reader to decide. The individual's contribution to the history of his nation is another theme; whether any one person can affect the course of the whole, in a nation of a billion people. Worthy messages, and I'll allow they are well presented, but it still didn't make for a pleasant reading experience.more
This book took up 3 months of my life -- was it worth it? Wholeheartedly - YES! I loved the characters, loved the history, the smells of this book. I couldn't wait to finish it and once I did I was sorry it was over.more
Highly overrated. It's an ok book, but I don't get the fuss that is made about it. Some parts are good, some parts are boring. Overall an ok read. I'll probably forget it in a few weeks.more
Double winner in 1981 of the Man Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Midnight’s Children begins with the birth of the protagonist Saleem Sinai at midnight Aug 15th 1947 – when the country of India, as partitioned from Pakistan, was also “born”.Rushdie’s entire story is based on magical realism: Saleem discovers that he has supernatural mental powers that allow him to converse with all of the other children born in that hour, and that they too have ‘gifts’ of varying degrees.Now that Saleem is dying, he is relating his story to his companion Padma. That story follows closely the course of history in Modern India, and involves also the illegitimate son of the former British estate owner, who was born at the exact moment Saleem was.I’m not a fan of magical realism but sometimes can enjoy it. Not this time. Rushdie embroidered the telling too much for me – going off on tangents and asides until Padma (and I) were saying: You’re talking funny again. Are you going to tell (the story) or not?Add to that that to really ‘get’ this book, you need a familiarity with the political players and events of the time that I don’t possess. I found the story was presented in such a way that it was difficult to learn.Read this if: you have studied the modern history of India and would like a fanciful account of its birth and early years. 3½ starsmore
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie is an absolutely brilliant book. A good amount of humour, History, human nature and the typical Indian 'masala' make it really un-put-downable! Initially, the book might seem a little confusing and perhaps even a little boring, but as you move ahead, you will become a part of it. We have watched India grow form the point of view of Politicians, inspiring personalities, established authors, critics, etc. However, here, you will get an opportunity to watch India and her children grow from the point of view of a common man, just another citizen of the country. A little bit of knowledgeable historical accounts give the book an intellectual edge. This is one book you musn't give a miss!more
Saleem Sinai is born at the very stroke of midnight on the first day of India’s Independence from British rule. But he is only one of 1,000 other children born in the first hour of India’s freedom. And all of the children are gifted with supernatural powers, Saleem with a telepathic power to connect with and channel each of his brothers and sisters of freedom. Saleem’s life, his family’s history, and the lives of [Midnight’s Children] mirror the turbulent story of India.I would never have ever picked up a Salman Rushdie book if not for the 100 best lists that I have been reading through over the years. Rushdie is such a polarizing figure, with a jihadist bounty on his head for offending an Ayatollah, he grinds through wives and women and is always ready to comment on anything to anyone. For example, the top search result for him just this minute is the following quote:The world is full of things that upset people. But most of us deal with it and move on and don’t try and burn the planet down. There is no right in the world not to be offended. That right simply doesn’t exist. In a free society, an open society, people have strong opinions, and these opinions very often clash. In a democracy, we have to learn to deal with this.Whether he offends you or not, and he’s offended many, Rushdie is a master and I’m glad I didn’t miss this book.Told in a sort of rabbit-trail stream of consciousness, the narrative begins by telling Saleem’s family history first, beginning with his grandparents. Gazing at the past through a long lens in this way, Rushdie is able to ground his message of interconnectedness – who we are is a derivation of all our ancestral history and every event, no matter how insignificant, that plays a part in any life. Languid in its pace, the story never rushes to any conclusion or climax – our narrator, the hero of the story, is not even born until well after the first 100 pages of the book. Every detail of each character’s life and motivation is pondered on and explored. And the result is a rich, succulent epic that is never tiresome.[Midnight’s Children] has been categorized as a magical realism story – one that blends the magical with the real. Whether that is an accurate characterization depends on your view of Saleem’s narrative, as he repeatedly admits to being an unreliable narrator. Is Saleem telling the truth about the powers of his compatriots and the mystical events that often plague him? Or is he processing the tragic and difficult history of his home with the fantastical to make it more palatable. Saleem would simply say, “It happened that way because that’s how it happened.” Don’t be frightened by Rushdie’s polarizing personality. [Midnight’s Children] is a good old-fashioned story-telling. There are political and social implications to the story, but Rushdie doesn’t force an agenda, he just tells Saleem’s story. And don’t be put-off by the cultural milieu of this story. Unless you’re from India or are a scholar on Indian history, there will be much in the book that is strange and indecipherable. But the history and culture are not important; they are simply different colors or tastes in a familiar and common story.Bottom Line: A rich epic of India, but also just a good-old fashioned well-told story, recognizable to anyone, anywhere.5 bones!!!!!A Favorite for the Year.more
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.more
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.more
It's not often I give up on a book, but this one bored me from page one. I really, really wanted to like it - but couldn't get into it at all. Boo.more
"We must live I´m afraid, with the shadows of imperfections," I borrow words from Rushdie to tell you at once that I in no way will ever be able to do this book justice with my review. I can just hope that I manage to tell a few; Do not loose this one! Make no mistake about it; It is on the shortlist of shortlists, just as it was the Booker of the Bookers.Essentially the book is political criticism of the Indian government´s (lack of) statemanship since the country´s independence in 1947 written by a Bombayian muslim who culturally is an anglo-indian. His question is: How can the leaders of a country with such huge amount of resources to draw on fail? Even worse; Of all the gifts to choose from (cultural heritage, natural and human resources) how can they still draw mostly on the Shivanian forces??? Even if the stripping off the corrupted is complete, this is not a depressing book, There is hope; This is India; Even Shiva is double-faced.)"Politics children; at the best of times a bad dirty business."" I have been at the mercy of the so called gentler sex. Is not mother India, Bharat Mata, thought of as a female?" "India is Indira , Indira is India" "Shiva engaged in political chit-chat, and declared himself a firm admirer of Mrs. Gandhi.""Was Shiva´s explosion into my life truly syncronous with India´s arrival at the nuclear age?""He (Shiva major in Indira´s army) could be in hell or the brothel down the road" " I smelled the ghost of ancient empires in the air." "I inhaled once again the sharp aroma of despotism"But it is so much more. Rushdie´s style could be the offspring produced by a marriage between Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens, Wodehouse and the authors of 1001 night. The satire is Swiftianly sharply stinging, is certainly carried by fantastic figures, the story is interspersed with Dickensian romance and Wodehousian twisting of simple ordinary language that create new notions that comes so surprisingly you laugh out loudly before you can consciously register what the humor is. Add then the 1001 timeless adventure to the notion of an old nation becoming a new nation, and set a master-pickler to make chutney of the fate of the gifted children born that same independence day at the stroke of midnight. Rushdie´s language can like every other author´s words be reduced to white pages dotted with black, but once you start reading, whether you are interested in politics or not, whether India interests you or not, you will (double)swiftly be carr(y)ied off on a saffron and green-pea-green color (the color of rareness and naivity of Saleem´s voice) into a story that soon casts shadows in all flavours and equally rapidly mounts above both politics and nationality. "He was a child of a father who was not his father, but also the child of a time which damaged reality so badly that nobody ever managed to put it right again."Only Rushdie could; "Reality can have metaphorical content: that does not make it less real" Saleem Sinai, the Monkey´s brother´s odyssey through time and space, through a journey where only one object follow him through the whole story; A poet´s (his mother´s lover) spittoon inlaid with lapiz lasuli..... Do not let your "muscles of disbelief" lead you astray if some of the metaphors are lost on you at first encounter. "Saleem Sinai learned that Picture Singh and the magicians hold on reality was absolute; they gripped it so powerfully that they could bend it every which way in the service of their arts, but they never forgot what it was." "Chrishti Khan had permitted the ultimate solecism of permitting his illutionist expertise to unfeet his real life; he was not popular in the ghetto"."To pickle is to give immortality". Rushdie has followed his own rule well enough and have but "changed the flavour in degree, but not in kind" in his project of embalming. You do not need to have Saleem Sinai´s nose to smell the "authentic taste of truths that despite everything is the acts of love". Do not, like me, put the book off for ages because India or politics or none of them is your first priority right now.....more
So much has already been written about this book, so let me just add that the writing was great. Mr. Rushdie can really paint a picture of Indian and its people. The premise of 1,001 children born in the first hour of India's independence whose lives mirror India's own in terms of religious, political and cultural struggles is intriguing and well executed. This is the kind of broad story that I can really lose myself in, and I enjoyed it.more
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.more
Rushdie's finest book, the one he poured his soul into. Politics, history, humor and the finest prose. A wonder.more
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.more
There are a few things you need to do when reading Midnight's Children. First, you need to lose your logical mind. Nothing happens in chronological order so don't even try to keep even a chaotic timeline in your head. Second, don't try to get to know every single characters. There are so many different people, a nation of characters coming and going in the story you would need to draw up a family tree and a community profile to keep them all straight. Third, look past all the repetition. In the first 50 pages Rushdie is obsessed with a nose and a perforated bed sheet. So much so you will feel as if you have read the same sentences more than a few times. Finally, say goodbye to the real world. If you are a fan of magical realism, Midnight's Children is the book for you. For those of us grounded in sensible reality, my best advice is to read it as "loosely" as possible.Despite all the seemingly negative comments above this is a book you should be reading. The language is spectacular.The journey is sublime. You won't regret giving it a chance. So, here's the story in a nutshell: 1,001 children are born in India at the very moment India gained its independence from British rule. All 1,001 children are born with magical powers yet those born closest to the midnight hour have the strongest powers. Two such children are Saleem Sinai and Shiva. Swapped at birth they are destined to be enemies. Saleem, born of poor Hindu parents, is raised by a wealthy Muslim family while Shiva ends up with the impoverished Hindu clan. The struggle between these children mirrors the larger issues of India: religion, culture, and of course, politics.more
 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.more
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.more
It all started with the bump of a grandfather's nose against the Kashmiri earth. There was the Reverend Mother behind a perforated sheet and a prophesying boatman, whatshisname. A mother learning to love her husband bit by bit and a father's alcoholic djinns. It is a story of snakes and ladders, ladders and snakes. Nose and knees, knees and nose. Padma is here telling me that none of this makes sense. (But of course it cannot make sense, until you've read…) Then you must read the book in order to understand all that is written (although it is probably not possible to ever completely understand…). The author, Salman Rushdie, has fashioned a clever story of Indian history filled with historical facts and figures, complex allusions and fantastic imagery. (Here we go, Padma. Finally the essence of the story.) This is the story of Saleem Sinai, a child born at the moment of India's independence and the creation of Pakistan. National affairs have great impact on the life of Saleem and his family. Likewise, the course of the nation is steered by events that take place in Saleem's own life. Some parts of the story seem quite strange to me and it also seemed overly long and drawn out, yet I enjoyed the book overall for its characters and humor. I would have preferred a rating of 3 1/2 stars for this reason. I also suggest reading up on Indian history, especially during the time of independence, in order to get a better understanding of the story. The author is definitely a master of allusion.more
This is the first book I've read by Rushdie & I have to say it's not at all what I expected. I'm not sure how I ended up with this expectation, but I really thought this was going to be a dry literary book that took me hours to get through but would be rewarding in the end (think all those Russian authors!) Rushdie's writing is actually very funny & endearing. He paints an idiosyncratic picture, the story moving forward by a series of small events, never long passages of descriptive text, building up a vivid image of the setting by inference & suggestion. It's effortless reading in which you suddenly realise you've learnt so much without having to take anything in.He builds up a picture of India amazingly, diving straight in but never excluding the western reader. He explains just enough of culture & language for you to be a part of his story without feeling like a tourist. Unlike some novels I've read set in foreign parts, you don't strain your inner eye trying to imagine the setting, you are simply there.I am generally a fan of page turners, I like to be thrown from scene to scene & desperate to read just...one...more...page.... but this is one where you're along for the ride. I find myself reading it really slowly, but in a good way, enjoying every sentence. I was surprised when I realised how little I'd read in a week! It's very thick prose that gives you the impression of having eaten more than you actually had on your plate.more
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Reviews

I was not even halfway through when i gave up reading this novel.I got really fed up, annoyed and lost all my patience.This doesn't mean the novel was very bad it was because Salman Rusdie's way of writing was very high(????) that i had to read it twice to understand the characters and the story beneath it.I gave 5 stars for his unique way of writing because he has made it sure that the readers doesn't know what they were really reading.It was a surprise to me why this novel got Booker-prize award.The enthusiasm that was there before reading the book was totally spoiled after reading.more
Why nobody else but me should pay attention to my rating or review, and should just ignore everything I say:I’m reviewing this and “finished” this book only because I do that for all my real world book club books. I cheated. If I had a did not finish or abandoned shelf, I’d have used it, and not poorly plowed my way through the book. I speed read the book and I’m not a champion speed reader, so I wasn’t being fair to the book and cannot do it justice when talking about it. I missed a lot, including some whats and hows and whys. I was not in the mood to read it. I think it’s possible if I hadn’t felt rushed to read it and had been in the mood for it, I might have appreciated it more. It’s likely I’ll never get back to it though, but writing these review notes are to remind me about it and to help me to decide whether to reread it sometime in the future. I don’t feel guilty about improperly skewing the book’s Goodreads’ stats because it has so many ratings and reviews. It’s not this book’s fault that I was overwhelmed and frazzled and had a pile of books I would have preferred to read. The book never drew me in; I just wanted it to be over.The bad:I stayed up late to finish it, not because I couldn’t put it down but because I wanted to put it down for good.I have liked magical realism in some books but it’s never been a favorite sub-genre of mine. Here, for me it took away from the story. I’d have rather had a straight story novel, or even a non-fiction book about India’s history and independence. I didn’t care about or get attached to the characters, and the narrator drove me crazy with his way of storytelling.I printed out a character list to help me keep things straight, but found it wasn’t at all comprehensive and I looked at it only several times.While some of the language was lovely, I didn’t like the way the story was told.I love “twin” stories and switched at birth stories, but not this one, although for me, for a bit of time, the book got more interesting when the children finally got to age ten. When the narrator discovered them and they discovered each other, fairly interesting. But, the whole book was a slow crawl, filled with digressions, some of which I found superfluous. This book, partly because of a narrator talking about times as though there when not during his lifetime, reminded me of some other books I’ve read with my book club, including Middlesex and Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and I think some others whose titles are now escaping me, but all books I enjoyed more, except for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, another rare one of our books I haven’t enjoyed, and the only other of our books I “skipped through” as rapidly as I could, and another one that had me amazed I didn’t love it.The good:This is the Booker winner of all the Booker Prize winners, and I have other winners on my shelf I really want to read.It has many, many beautifully written passages.My edition has an introduction to the 25th anniversary edition by the author, and he gives some background on what’s real, what’s fictionalized, how the book was received by people in the west vs. India, and by Indira Ghandi; all that was interesting information.It’s brilliantly ambitious.So, in summary: This book was not my cup of tea but I think it might have been me, me at the time I was reading it.more
One of the best books I read in college and the best book of Rushdie's from what I've read. He has the magical realism of Marquez with Dickens's eye for detailed character descriptions, and his own perfect blend of history and plot.more
This was awarded the "Booker of Bookers". For me, Midnight's Children is my "Favorite of Favorites". Pure Gold.more
So I was madly in love with this book during undergrad, and now that I've reread it for book group, I'm less in love. Yes, there is a lot to talk about, and yes, there was a lot to write about for my Post Colonial Lit class, but, frankly, this book is overwhelming. I don't have time to dig up that much history and that much Hindu mythology, among other things, to really delve into this one.more
Big rich sprawling novel, filled with intertwined meanings and characters and events.more
This definitely qualifies as "Literature," complete with themes, motifs, allusions, metaphors, etc. It's the story of a man who was born on the stroke of midnight the night India gained it's Independence from Britain, and gains magical powers (telepathy) from that coincidence. Things that happen to him happen to, or are echoed in what happens to India, and vice versa.

I listened to the audio version and the performance is fantastic. Lots and lots of frenetic energy in the appropriate places, then the calmer sections when that's appropriate. The only problem with it being an audio book is that you can't really go back and look at previous sections easily - going back a few minutes is easy and I did that a lot, but I couldn't go back, say, several hours to find the time when another situation was phrased in the exact same way as the current one.

It did have periods that seem a bit slow - especially when it was recounting the historical events in India/Pakistan. But I think the reason that those didn't work as well for me was my complete ignorance of the subject.

I liked it a lot. Lots of little "ah! that's cool!" moments when he pulls off some literary trick, and very entertaining on a plot/humor level - 4/5 stars - and I think I'd give it that 5th star if I would read up on India's history then re-read it in paper (rather than audio) so I can go back and forth more, because I KNOW that there's lots of layers to the story that I didn't catch - there's just not time to notice everything in an audio book.more
This year I pretty much stopped reading. Instead I watched hundreds of Bollywood movies. This is no exaggeration: I ran through the netflix offerings, found them on youtube, bought them in little Indian markets, and ordered them online. I was partly enthralled by the things that enthrall westerners about Bollywood - the colors! the music! the mashed-together plots! the crazed optimism! - but also by the sheer sweep of history revealed by these light-hearted movies. In school, I think our teachers covered the subject of India by mentioning the Indus Valley civilization and then showing us Gandhi. The scope of my ignorance, once revealed, was astonishing to me. The partition of Pakistan, the conflict in Kashmir, the linguistic and ethnic divides in India, the extent of the British occupation, anything at all about Hinduism - all this I learned about from movies, which I guess is a sorry statement about both the US educational system and my own short-sightedness.

In my shame, I remembered trying to read 'Midnight's Children' in high school, because I was pretentious, mostly. I didn't understand anything about it, though I didn't admit that, of course. Now - thanks to Veer Zaara, Dil Se, Rang de Basanti, and Fanaa - I was ready to tackle this book again, with more of a grasp on what Rushdie was trying to describe.

And, oh. This book, like a great masala film, with funerals and weddings (you have to have both!) and tragedy and crazed, dogged optimism, unfurling without restraint, digressions leading into digressions and fantasy blended with reality. It's a great book. Unjust to compare it to a song-and-dance movie? Maybe it's more unfair to describe this story as Literature, and thus put it up on a high shelf out of the reach of the rabble.more
This begins in India, while it was still a colony. Although the story has the day of their Independence as a central component, it isn't so much about Indian history as it is about how that affected various people the author has created. I am sad, but I have to quit reading this book. I think that ten years ago, it would have been a book I could immerse myself in, but at this time I don't have the patience for the author's style. It is like sitting and listening to an old man rambling. He digresses here, there, and everywhere. I'm not saying this is bad, it is simply a style I cannot be happy reading at this time. The author has a gift for settings and characters. They leap to life in his words. In my opinion he talks too much about his penis, but maybe that won't bother others. Still, don't let my review discourage you from trying this book. I think it may be the next best thing to actually going to India.more
Saleem is born on the same stroke of midnight when India becomes independent from Great Britain in 1947. For the rest of his life he sees parallels between the events that happen to him personally and his nation's history that reach back to before he was born. There are grand metaphors at work (apparently I've missed many of these) and a wide cast of family and their acquaintances, covering the period up to 1978.An untrustworthy narrator overly full of himself, a wandering narrative, a story full of bizarre elements that never manage to engage ... Tragedy without pathos, almost unrelieved by comedy. Filled with bald foreshadowing that drains the plot of tension, a novel you can easily substitute with googling the history of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Only the loose framing story inspired my interest, though I read all the way to the end. I'll keep reading positive reviews in hopes of feeling it was worth it.Edit: ... from which I gather the point is that India's politics and culture are too foreign to the Western mind, thus requiring a magic realism approach. Does the fizzling out of those elements represent a discarding of India's mystical past as it embraces a Westernized future, or abandonment of the early promise its independence extolled? It's up to the reader to decide. The individual's contribution to the history of his nation is another theme; whether any one person can affect the course of the whole, in a nation of a billion people. Worthy messages, and I'll allow they are well presented, but it still didn't make for a pleasant reading experience.more
This book took up 3 months of my life -- was it worth it? Wholeheartedly - YES! I loved the characters, loved the history, the smells of this book. I couldn't wait to finish it and once I did I was sorry it was over.more
Highly overrated. It's an ok book, but I don't get the fuss that is made about it. Some parts are good, some parts are boring. Overall an ok read. I'll probably forget it in a few weeks.more
Double winner in 1981 of the Man Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Midnight’s Children begins with the birth of the protagonist Saleem Sinai at midnight Aug 15th 1947 – when the country of India, as partitioned from Pakistan, was also “born”.Rushdie’s entire story is based on magical realism: Saleem discovers that he has supernatural mental powers that allow him to converse with all of the other children born in that hour, and that they too have ‘gifts’ of varying degrees.Now that Saleem is dying, he is relating his story to his companion Padma. That story follows closely the course of history in Modern India, and involves also the illegitimate son of the former British estate owner, who was born at the exact moment Saleem was.I’m not a fan of magical realism but sometimes can enjoy it. Not this time. Rushdie embroidered the telling too much for me – going off on tangents and asides until Padma (and I) were saying: You’re talking funny again. Are you going to tell (the story) or not?Add to that that to really ‘get’ this book, you need a familiarity with the political players and events of the time that I don’t possess. I found the story was presented in such a way that it was difficult to learn.Read this if: you have studied the modern history of India and would like a fanciful account of its birth and early years. 3½ starsmore
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie is an absolutely brilliant book. A good amount of humour, History, human nature and the typical Indian 'masala' make it really un-put-downable! Initially, the book might seem a little confusing and perhaps even a little boring, but as you move ahead, you will become a part of it. We have watched India grow form the point of view of Politicians, inspiring personalities, established authors, critics, etc. However, here, you will get an opportunity to watch India and her children grow from the point of view of a common man, just another citizen of the country. A little bit of knowledgeable historical accounts give the book an intellectual edge. This is one book you musn't give a miss!more
Saleem Sinai is born at the very stroke of midnight on the first day of India’s Independence from British rule. But he is only one of 1,000 other children born in the first hour of India’s freedom. And all of the children are gifted with supernatural powers, Saleem with a telepathic power to connect with and channel each of his brothers and sisters of freedom. Saleem’s life, his family’s history, and the lives of [Midnight’s Children] mirror the turbulent story of India.I would never have ever picked up a Salman Rushdie book if not for the 100 best lists that I have been reading through over the years. Rushdie is such a polarizing figure, with a jihadist bounty on his head for offending an Ayatollah, he grinds through wives and women and is always ready to comment on anything to anyone. For example, the top search result for him just this minute is the following quote:The world is full of things that upset people. But most of us deal with it and move on and don’t try and burn the planet down. There is no right in the world not to be offended. That right simply doesn’t exist. In a free society, an open society, people have strong opinions, and these opinions very often clash. In a democracy, we have to learn to deal with this.Whether he offends you or not, and he’s offended many, Rushdie is a master and I’m glad I didn’t miss this book.Told in a sort of rabbit-trail stream of consciousness, the narrative begins by telling Saleem’s family history first, beginning with his grandparents. Gazing at the past through a long lens in this way, Rushdie is able to ground his message of interconnectedness – who we are is a derivation of all our ancestral history and every event, no matter how insignificant, that plays a part in any life. Languid in its pace, the story never rushes to any conclusion or climax – our narrator, the hero of the story, is not even born until well after the first 100 pages of the book. Every detail of each character’s life and motivation is pondered on and explored. And the result is a rich, succulent epic that is never tiresome.[Midnight’s Children] has been categorized as a magical realism story – one that blends the magical with the real. Whether that is an accurate characterization depends on your view of Saleem’s narrative, as he repeatedly admits to being an unreliable narrator. Is Saleem telling the truth about the powers of his compatriots and the mystical events that often plague him? Or is he processing the tragic and difficult history of his home with the fantastical to make it more palatable. Saleem would simply say, “It happened that way because that’s how it happened.” Don’t be frightened by Rushdie’s polarizing personality. [Midnight’s Children] is a good old-fashioned story-telling. There are political and social implications to the story, but Rushdie doesn’t force an agenda, he just tells Saleem’s story. And don’t be put-off by the cultural milieu of this story. Unless you’re from India or are a scholar on Indian history, there will be much in the book that is strange and indecipherable. But the history and culture are not important; they are simply different colors or tastes in a familiar and common story.Bottom Line: A rich epic of India, but also just a good-old fashioned well-told story, recognizable to anyone, anywhere.5 bones!!!!!A Favorite for the Year.more
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.more
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.more
It's not often I give up on a book, but this one bored me from page one. I really, really wanted to like it - but couldn't get into it at all. Boo.more
"We must live I´m afraid, with the shadows of imperfections," I borrow words from Rushdie to tell you at once that I in no way will ever be able to do this book justice with my review. I can just hope that I manage to tell a few; Do not loose this one! Make no mistake about it; It is on the shortlist of shortlists, just as it was the Booker of the Bookers.Essentially the book is political criticism of the Indian government´s (lack of) statemanship since the country´s independence in 1947 written by a Bombayian muslim who culturally is an anglo-indian. His question is: How can the leaders of a country with such huge amount of resources to draw on fail? Even worse; Of all the gifts to choose from (cultural heritage, natural and human resources) how can they still draw mostly on the Shivanian forces??? Even if the stripping off the corrupted is complete, this is not a depressing book, There is hope; This is India; Even Shiva is double-faced.)"Politics children; at the best of times a bad dirty business."" I have been at the mercy of the so called gentler sex. Is not mother India, Bharat Mata, thought of as a female?" "India is Indira , Indira is India" "Shiva engaged in political chit-chat, and declared himself a firm admirer of Mrs. Gandhi.""Was Shiva´s explosion into my life truly syncronous with India´s arrival at the nuclear age?""He (Shiva major in Indira´s army) could be in hell or the brothel down the road" " I smelled the ghost of ancient empires in the air." "I inhaled once again the sharp aroma of despotism"But it is so much more. Rushdie´s style could be the offspring produced by a marriage between Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens, Wodehouse and the authors of 1001 night. The satire is Swiftianly sharply stinging, is certainly carried by fantastic figures, the story is interspersed with Dickensian romance and Wodehousian twisting of simple ordinary language that create new notions that comes so surprisingly you laugh out loudly before you can consciously register what the humor is. Add then the 1001 timeless adventure to the notion of an old nation becoming a new nation, and set a master-pickler to make chutney of the fate of the gifted children born that same independence day at the stroke of midnight. Rushdie´s language can like every other author´s words be reduced to white pages dotted with black, but once you start reading, whether you are interested in politics or not, whether India interests you or not, you will (double)swiftly be carr(y)ied off on a saffron and green-pea-green color (the color of rareness and naivity of Saleem´s voice) into a story that soon casts shadows in all flavours and equally rapidly mounts above both politics and nationality. "He was a child of a father who was not his father, but also the child of a time which damaged reality so badly that nobody ever managed to put it right again."Only Rushdie could; "Reality can have metaphorical content: that does not make it less real" Saleem Sinai, the Monkey´s brother´s odyssey through time and space, through a journey where only one object follow him through the whole story; A poet´s (his mother´s lover) spittoon inlaid with lapiz lasuli..... Do not let your "muscles of disbelief" lead you astray if some of the metaphors are lost on you at first encounter. "Saleem Sinai learned that Picture Singh and the magicians hold on reality was absolute; they gripped it so powerfully that they could bend it every which way in the service of their arts, but they never forgot what it was." "Chrishti Khan had permitted the ultimate solecism of permitting his illutionist expertise to unfeet his real life; he was not popular in the ghetto"."To pickle is to give immortality". Rushdie has followed his own rule well enough and have but "changed the flavour in degree, but not in kind" in his project of embalming. You do not need to have Saleem Sinai´s nose to smell the "authentic taste of truths that despite everything is the acts of love". Do not, like me, put the book off for ages because India or politics or none of them is your first priority right now.....more
So much has already been written about this book, so let me just add that the writing was great. Mr. Rushdie can really paint a picture of Indian and its people. The premise of 1,001 children born in the first hour of India's independence whose lives mirror India's own in terms of religious, political and cultural struggles is intriguing and well executed. This is the kind of broad story that I can really lose myself in, and I enjoyed it.more
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.more
Rushdie's finest book, the one he poured his soul into. Politics, history, humor and the finest prose. A wonder.more
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.more
There are a few things you need to do when reading Midnight's Children. First, you need to lose your logical mind. Nothing happens in chronological order so don't even try to keep even a chaotic timeline in your head. Second, don't try to get to know every single characters. There are so many different people, a nation of characters coming and going in the story you would need to draw up a family tree and a community profile to keep them all straight. Third, look past all the repetition. In the first 50 pages Rushdie is obsessed with a nose and a perforated bed sheet. So much so you will feel as if you have read the same sentences more than a few times. Finally, say goodbye to the real world. If you are a fan of magical realism, Midnight's Children is the book for you. For those of us grounded in sensible reality, my best advice is to read it as "loosely" as possible.Despite all the seemingly negative comments above this is a book you should be reading. The language is spectacular.The journey is sublime. You won't regret giving it a chance. So, here's the story in a nutshell: 1,001 children are born in India at the very moment India gained its independence from British rule. All 1,001 children are born with magical powers yet those born closest to the midnight hour have the strongest powers. Two such children are Saleem Sinai and Shiva. Swapped at birth they are destined to be enemies. Saleem, born of poor Hindu parents, is raised by a wealthy Muslim family while Shiva ends up with the impoverished Hindu clan. The struggle between these children mirrors the larger issues of India: religion, culture, and of course, politics.more
 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.more
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.more
It all started with the bump of a grandfather's nose against the Kashmiri earth. There was the Reverend Mother behind a perforated sheet and a prophesying boatman, whatshisname. A mother learning to love her husband bit by bit and a father's alcoholic djinns. It is a story of snakes and ladders, ladders and snakes. Nose and knees, knees and nose. Padma is here telling me that none of this makes sense. (But of course it cannot make sense, until you've read…) Then you must read the book in order to understand all that is written (although it is probably not possible to ever completely understand…). The author, Salman Rushdie, has fashioned a clever story of Indian history filled with historical facts and figures, complex allusions and fantastic imagery. (Here we go, Padma. Finally the essence of the story.) This is the story of Saleem Sinai, a child born at the moment of India's independence and the creation of Pakistan. National affairs have great impact on the life of Saleem and his family. Likewise, the course of the nation is steered by events that take place in Saleem's own life. Some parts of the story seem quite strange to me and it also seemed overly long and drawn out, yet I enjoyed the book overall for its characters and humor. I would have preferred a rating of 3 1/2 stars for this reason. I also suggest reading up on Indian history, especially during the time of independence, in order to get a better understanding of the story. The author is definitely a master of allusion.more
This is the first book I've read by Rushdie & I have to say it's not at all what I expected. I'm not sure how I ended up with this expectation, but I really thought this was going to be a dry literary book that took me hours to get through but would be rewarding in the end (think all those Russian authors!) Rushdie's writing is actually very funny & endearing. He paints an idiosyncratic picture, the story moving forward by a series of small events, never long passages of descriptive text, building up a vivid image of the setting by inference & suggestion. It's effortless reading in which you suddenly realise you've learnt so much without having to take anything in.He builds up a picture of India amazingly, diving straight in but never excluding the western reader. He explains just enough of culture & language for you to be a part of his story without feeling like a tourist. Unlike some novels I've read set in foreign parts, you don't strain your inner eye trying to imagine the setting, you are simply there.I am generally a fan of page turners, I like to be thrown from scene to scene & desperate to read just...one...more...page.... but this is one where you're along for the ride. I find myself reading it really slowly, but in a good way, enjoying every sentence. I was surprised when I realised how little I'd read in a week! It's very thick prose that gives you the impression of having eaten more than you actually had on your plate.more
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