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Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

Midnight's Children (original 1981; edition 1991)

by Salman Rushdie

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9,732172296 (4.06)1 / 788
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. 90
    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. 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 Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (BGP)
  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. 01
    Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera (evilmoose)
  10. 03
    The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (amyblue)
1980s (10)

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Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
Saleem Sinai is both a man and a metaphor. As one of the 1,001 boys and girls born in the first hour of August 19, 1947—the exact moment that India broke free from British colonial rule and became an independent nation—Saleem is one of “midnight’s children” who are imbued with a variety of magical powers. And as he and his life-long nemesis Shiva were born just at the stroke of midnight, their powers are the strongest of all, a fact which becomes both a curse and a blessing as they grow up over the next three decades. In fact, as Saleem learns soon enough, his life is not really his own; not only is his family life complicated by someone else’s misguided action that occurred in that initial hour, but significant events in his upbringing also seem to mirror the progress of the entire country with which he shares a birthday.

Framed as a lengthy oral history that Saleem relates to Padma, his long-suffering fiancée, Midnight’s Children is nothing short of a masterpiece of modern story-telling. Within its sprawling structure, Salman Rushdie manages to piece together a multi-generational saga of Saleem’s family dating back to his maternal grandparents along with eyewitness histories of the first 30 years of independent countryhood for India, Pakistan, and, eventually, Bangladesh. For someone to even conceive of completing such a massive undertaking in a single volume is impressive, but for the author to have actually succeeded in accomplishing that feat is truly remarkable. This is a novel crammed full with enough erudition, wit, drama, social and political history, pathos, tenderness, cruelty, and, above all, true humanity to fill three ordinary novels. That it won a Booker Prize—as well as “Best of Booker” Prizes on two subsequent occasions—is hardly surprising.

It has been noted elsewhere that Midnight’s Children inherited parts of its narrative style (e.g., the use of magic realism elements and allusion, the creation of dense, multi-layered stories) from writers like James Joyce, Günter Grass, Gabriel García Márquez, and Thomas Pynchon. That may be true, but it is certainly no detraction because this novel clearly stands on its own as a significant work of fiction. To be sure, it is neither an easy nor a quick reading experience; the author has packed it with so many characters, vignettes, and veiled historical references that I do not presume for a moment to have understood every detailed nuance of what I read on the first pass. (In fact, I found myself referring to an eight-page annotated list of characters that I got from a different source just to help keep track who’s who in the book.) Through it all, though, I found Rushdie’s prose to be well-crafted, engaging, and beautifully rendered. This is a thought-provoking and moving tale that will stay with me for a long time. ( )
  browner56 | Oct 27, 2015 |
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (1981). I read this directly after Satanic Verses. At that time I was writing short stories and thinking of how I could write a novel for children. Rushdie's books made me realize anything was possible. Okay, I cannot reach Rushdie’s dazzling heights of invention and literary prose, but I loved how he used his own personal experiences, while pushing the novel form to extremes. Rushdie was born in 1947, a year before the transition to independence in India, and used that moment in time to create a dazzling, game-changing novel of a young man born at the very moment of Indian independence. “Let your mind go,” Rushdie seemed to be saying directly to me, “and you can write the things you want to say in the way you want to say them. ( )
  ninahare | Oct 27, 2015 |
[3.5] ( )
  ebethiepaige | Oct 20, 2015 |
[3.5] ( )
  ebethiepaige | Oct 20, 2015 |
Anyone who has been paying attention knows I love the Man Booker Prize. I love the contest and I enjoy reading the books nominated. It's the one prize that I actively pay attention to (two weeks until the 2015 long list is announced, by the way). I'm excited to open any Booker winner.

It's no surprise therefore that I eagerly anticipated Salman Rushdie's Midnight Children. Not only was this novel selected as the Booker winner in 1981, but it went on to win the Booker of the Bookers in 1993 and the fan-selected Best of the Booker in 2008. That's a whole lotta Booker. How could I not love this book?

I didn't love it. In fact, I eagerly hoped the end would come much sooner than it did. Perhaps it was the expectation, but I don't think so. Midnight's Children was just too farcical for my taste. It was also very cultural. Those intimately involved in the story of India's history and culture are sure to understand this novel much more than I did. And if I loved the story and the voice, I might have made an effort to learn the history. But I didn't love anything about it. It was written well. There were certainly many memorable scenes throughout. But the comical, Dickens-like approach to everything grated my patience. The voice of Saleem Sinai, so repetitive, so whimsical... ugh, so what?

Midnight's Children is clever and written well, but for me it wasn't memorable. At its best, it reminded me of magical epic historical family sagas such as Middlesex and One Hundred Years of Solitude. At its worst, it reminded me of a precocious child who doesn't know when to shut up.

I'd like to say more good about this novel, but frankly I struggled too much with getting through it to really enjoy it. The question in my mind at this point is whether this is Rushdie's style, or merely the voice of his protagonist. Either way, I think Rushdie's non-fiction is my next step.

Now, any predictions on this year's Booker? ( )
  chrisblocker | Jul 16, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 161 (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.
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I was born in the city of Bombay . . . once upon a time.
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(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)

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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)

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