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Midnight's children by Salman Rushdie

Midnight's children (original 1981; edition 1981)

by Salman Rushdie

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,175None324 (4.08)1 / 661
Title:Midnight's children
Authors:Salman Rushdie
Info:London: Vintage, 1995.
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, male author, indian, india, bombay, magical realism, vintage, random house, bookshelf26, read2008, group reads - literature

Work details

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (1981)

  1. 60
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Nickelini)
  2. 51
    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (GoST)
  3. 31
    The Tin Drum by Günter Grass (GabrielF, CGlanovsky)
    GabrielF: I think Rushdie based a lot of his style in Midnight's Children on The Tin Drum. Both books are historical epics told through the perspective of a child with strange powers.
    CGlanovsky: A boy bound to the destiny of his birthplace. Surreal elements.
  4. 21
    The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (BGP)
  5. 10
    Kim by Rudyard Kipling (Gregorio_Roth)
    Gregorio_Roth: The book is a modern interpretation of KIM in a number of ways. I think it will complete your point of view on Imperialism and India.
  6. 11
    The Moor's Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie (wrmjr66)
    wrmjr66: I think The Moor's Last Sigh is Rushdie's best book since Midnight's Children.
  7. 00
    My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (BGP)
  8. 11
    The Master and Margarita by Mihail Bulgakov (BGP)
  9. 02
    The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (amyblue)

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English (145)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Czech (1)  Finnish (1)  Polish (1)  All languages (155)
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
Well....what can I say? This review is going to seem a bit biased, because for whatever reason, I just don't LIKE Rushdie as an author. Maybe I just don't "get" him, or I don't understand his vision. Either way, even though this book was easier to read than some of the others I've read of his (gotta give me credit for hanging in there with him & hacking my way through his volumes trying to connect with at least ONE), I ended up becoming bored less than halfway through. Therefore, it was harder to force myself to pick up each time I put it down.

I will say that if you are a reader who can appreciate his scope & vision, & has read at least one of his works before, you'll like this one. ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 11, 2014 |
I was tempted to title this review "If You Don't Get It, Try Listening To It!", but that seemed a bit mechanistic as a summing up of what is truly a great novel. To get the mechanisms out of the way, I've started to read this novel more than once, and given up after 50 pages or so, confirmed in my belief that I don't like magic realism. When I started listening to the novel in audio book form on a cross country road trip, however, I was immediately drawn in, and stayed that way from Savannah to southern California. (Note: I only found one audio edition, narrated by Lyndam Gregory. If you find another, go for Gregory). Why it was so much more compelling in audio than on the page probably has more to do with me than with Rushdie, but if you are having trouble getting into this book, try listening to it.

That said, I am so glad that I read this book, want to read it again, and want to read more by Rushdie. What's so terrific about it? First off, it is a great story. The past, present and future of Saleem Sinai is a gripping family saga, a story of self discovery, and an endlessly entertaining parade of people and events. I always wanted to know what would happen next, and the author is brilliant at keeping curiosity alive, telling us that something is going to happen, and then telling us what it is. In this sense, and in the "family saga" aspect, it reminded me of the great Victorian British novelists -- I haven't read enough Dickens to know if Rushdie is Dickensian, but he certainly keeps the generations moving.

Secondly, the political and social context -- or subtext -- is fascinating. This is "about" the birth of modern India, the terrible Muslim/Hindu divide and the division of the state, the hangovers of British rule, the movement towards -- and away from -- democracy, a thousand and one things. There was a lot of history that was new to me, and as another reviewer noted, it is helpful to check out characters and events on Wikipedia.

Finally, the structure and the language are inspired, if at times overwhelming. I recently attended an exhibition of Indian sculpture, and was amazed by the intensity of detail, details upon details upon details. Rushdie does this, sometimes I felt that he was throwing the whole of India at me, and it was too much. He also engages in constant word play, literary reference, internal jokes -- it goes on and on. This is dangerous prose, but Rushdie pulls it off.

Again, a great novel. ( )
  annbury | Mar 25, 2014 |
I don't know exactly what it was about this book that I loved. Something intrigued me from the beginning, and the book kept on casting its spell on me all the way through.
I loved Saleem and his storytelling, his way of being, his love. I loved the way the story started, and the way it ended. I loved how this was fiction, but still a good and somehow realistic view on indian history.
I don't care much for magic, but I love Rushdie's writing and I loved his story, and I can't believe it took me this long to tug into one of his books.
This is definitely a love or hate book, but I can only say that I loved it. And it wont be long before I will be again be reading the words of Salman Rushdie. ( )
  ct92 | Mar 21, 2014 |
Very imaginative, with history woven throughout. ( )
  joyhclark | Mar 13, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
Midnight's Children is a teeming fable of postcolonial India, told in magical-realist fashion by a telepathic hero born at the stroke of midnight on the day the country became independent. First published in 1981, it was met with little immediate excitement.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Guardian, Lindesay Irvine (Jul 10, 2008)
"The literary map of India is about to be redrawn. . . . What [English-language fiction about India] has been missing is . . . something just a little coarse, a hunger to swallow India whole and spit it out. . . . Now, in 'Midnight's Children,' Salman Rushdie has realized that ambition."
added by GYKM | editNew York Times, Clarke Blaise (Apr 19, 1981)

» Add other authors (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Salman Rushdieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Capriolo, EttoreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howard, IanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuchart, MaxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Versluys, MarijkeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Zafar Rushdie
who, contrary to all expectations,
was born in the afternoon.
First words
I was born in the city of Bombay . . . once upon a time.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please distinguish among:

-- Salman Rushdie's original 1981 novel, Midnight's Children;

-- Rushdie's 1999 screenplay adaptation (with introduction) of the novel, having the same title; and

-- The 2003 stage play, Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, adapted for theater by Rushdie, Tim Supple and Simon Reade.

Thank you.
Publisher's editors
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812976533, Paperback)

Anyone who has spent time in the developing world will know that one of Bombay's claims to fame is the enormous film industry that churns out hundreds of musical fantasies each year. The other, of course, is native son Salman Rushdie--less prolific, perhaps than Bollywood, but in his own way just as fantastical. Though Rushdie's novels lack the requisite six musical numbers that punctuate every Bombay talkie, they often share basic plot points with their cinematic counterparts. Take, for example, his 1980 Booker Prize-winning Midnight's Children: two children born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947--the moment at which India became an independent nation--are switched in the hospital. The infant scion of a wealthy Muslim family is sent to be raised in a Hindu tenement, while the legitimate heir to such squalor ends up establishing squatters' rights to his unlucky hospital mate's luxurious bassinet. Switched babies are standard fare for a Hindi film, and one can't help but feel that Rushdie's world-view--and certainly his sense of the fantastical--has been shaped by the films of his childhood. But whereas the movies, while entertaining, are markedly mediocre, Midnight's Children is a masterpiece, brilliant written, wildly unpredictable, hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure.

Rushdie's narrator, Saleem Sinai, is the Hindu child raised by wealthy Muslims. Near the beginning of the novel, he informs us that he is falling apart--literally:

I mean quite simply that I have begun to crack all over like an old jug--that my poor body, singular, unlovely, buffeted by too much history, subjected to drainage above and drainage below, mutilated by doors, brained by spittoons, has started coming apart at the seams. In short, I am literally disintegrating, slowly for the moment, although there are signs of an acceleration.
In light of this unfortunate physical degeneration, Saleem has decided to write his life story, and, incidentally, that of India's, before he crumbles into "(approximately) six hundred and thirty million particles of anonymous, and necessarily oblivious, dust." It seems that within one hour of midnight on India's independence day, 1,001 children were born. All of those children were endowed with special powers: some can travel through time, for example; one can change gender. Saleem's gift is telepathy, and it is via this power that he discovers the truth of his birth: that he is, in fact, the product of the illicit coupling of an Indian mother and an English father, and has usurped another's place. His gift also reveals the identities of all the other children and the fact that it is in his power to gather them for a "midnight parliament" to save the nation. To do so, however, would lay him open to that other child, christened Shiva, who has grown up to be a brutish killer. Saleem's dilemma plays out against the backdrop of the first years of independence: the partition of India and Pakistan, the ascendancy of "The Widow" Indira Gandhi, war, and, eventually, the imposition of martial law.

We've seen this mix of magical thinking and political reality before in the works of Günter Grass and Gabriel García Márquez. What sets Rushdie apart is his mad prose pyrotechnics, the exuberant acrobatics of rhyme and alliteration, pun, wordplay, proper and "Babu" English chasing each other across the page in a dizzying, exhilarating cataract of words. Rushdie can be laugh-out-loud funny, but make no mistake--this is an angry book, and its author's outrage lends his language wings. Midnight's Children is Salman Rushdie's irate, affectionate love song to his native land--not so different from a Bombay talkie, after all. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:48 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

The life of a man born at the moment of India's independence becomes inextricably linked to that of his nation and is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirror modern India's course, in a twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the Booker Prize-winning novel.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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