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Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

Midnight's Children (original 1981; edition 1991)

by Salman Rushdie

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,990182285 (4.06)1 / 805
Title:Midnight's Children
Authors:Salman Rushdie
Info:Penguin Books (1991), Paperback, 552 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:India, Pakistan, civil war, mystery, Saga

Work details

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (1981)

  1. 100
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Nickelini)
  2. 71
    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (GoST)
  3. 51
    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. 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.
  5. 21
    The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (BGP)
  6. 00
    Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh (pamelad)
    pamelad: Also set during Partition.
  7. 00
    My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (BGP)
  8. 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.
  9. 11
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (BGP)
  10. 01
    Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera (evilmoose)
  11. 03
    The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (amyblue)
1980s (6)

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English (171)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  Czech (1)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Polish (1)  All languages (182)
Showing 1-5 of 171 (next | show all)
I was born in the city of Bombay ..... once upon a time.
As you can find out from the opening line the story is about a child who was born in India. It is about a life, not the life of the little new born only, but the life of a nation.
The amazing unity between the details had been done wonderfully. Just like other Rushdie's novels it contains many characters who all play an important rule in the life and growth of the main character (as it actually really is in real life), but every single one of them is as important as the story goes along. His marvelous way of picturing the legendary India in its very critical time of history never let your mind to forget even for a moment the geographical and cultural destination of the tale and he does it with the beautiful use of words, the Indian-English conversations and even the characters attitudes and behaviors. At the same time the influences of Indian traditional legends, characters and symbols makes a fantastic relation between the past and present. Midnight's children is truly an incredible piece of literature to me, but I still prefer Shame over it. ( )
  GazelleS | May 11, 2016 |
Summary: Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight when India won its independence. He believes his life is “twinned” with the fate of the country, even as he is telepathically linked with the other “midnight children”, all of whom have unusual powers.

Salman Rushdie is a native of India of Muslim descent most often known for his book The Satanic Verses, the publication of which resulted in a fatwa calling for his assassination. Since 2000, he has lived in New York City. This novel, his second, brought him to the attention of the literary world and was awarded the Booker Prize and was selected one of the hundred best novels of all time by the Modern Library.

The central figure, Saleem Sinai, is narrating his life to Padma, “the pickle woman” who is taking care of him. Central to his life story is that he was born at the stroke of midnight at the moment India gained its Independence. He sees himself as a twin with India, and that his experiences and actions are intertwined with that of the country. His life and family dysfunctions and travails parallel those of India. In his personal history, he gets caught up in the Indo-Pakistan wars and Bangladeshi independence.

He and the other babies born in the first hour of Independence all have unusual powers. Saleem’s is the ability to telepathically link them together in the “Midnight Children’s Conference” where they deliberate how they might use their powers in their young country. The hopeful promise of these children is not attained, and one, Shiva, who was switched with Saleem at birth is a destroyer, symbolized by his powerful knees, while Saleem’s sensitivities are symbolized by his nose that can sniff out not only smells but dispositions and longings.

Rushdie writes in the genre of magical realism, similar to Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. Noses, knees, serpents, and impotent men recur through the book. When Saleem’s wife goes into labor, at the beginning of the Emergency declared by Indira Gandhi, she labors thirteen days, until the emergency lifts. In all of this, the life story of Saleem is mystically linked with the nation.

The challenge in reading this work is both remembering this connection and understanding the history of India during the time spanned by the novel (1947 to 1979). One wishes, particular in the newer edition, that it would have been annotated for those not deeply acquainted with this history. Rushdie himself observes that western readers tend to read this novel as fantasy while readers from India see the book as almost a history.

We trace the central figure from the hopefulness and growing awareness of boyhood to a growing sense of pathos, sadness and, indeed impotence, perhaps reflecting the frustration of India’s hopes, particularly during the Indira Gandhi rule. A life story, that of its own seems sad, and at points dysfunctional, in fact becomes commentary for the early years of India’s statehood. Sadly, this narrative could be the story of many post-colonial states. But Saleem has a son, and perhaps a new generation…. Perhaps. ( )
  BobonBooks | Apr 10, 2016 |
Salmn Rushdie is a brilliant storyteller, who in Midnight's Children weaves narrative together with history and symbolism to create a fascinating tale, a book of such utter genius that it is almost demotivating to aspiring writers, because how is one to ever match such perfection and mastery of the craft?

This was perhaps the best book I have read so far this year. It was long and slow at times, but in the end rewarding and unforgettable.
  bartt95 | Apr 10, 2016 |
I think that Slumdog Millionaire will help many become more curious about India. This brilliant book is a must for those searching to understand. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
It's been several years since reading Midnight's Children, but I recall it being extremely well written, and a wonderful read. Would like to read again. ( )
  anglophile65 | Mar 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 171 (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
Davidson, AndrewCover artistsecondary 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.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:44 -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)

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