Salman Rushdie: Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children

(c) 1980; New York: Knopf, 1981; ISBN: 039451470X

Midnight’s Children is Rushdie at his finest. The book is surrealist fiction that deals with the history of India from 1910 to the declaration of the emergency in 1976 through the eyes (and nose) of Saleem Sinai, born on the stroke of Midnight August 15, 1947. Midnight’s Children, like most of Rushdie’s writing, does have political overtones, yet the fog of larger events is never permitted to detract from the more personal experiences of all the multi-faceted characters in the novel. This is perhaps why this form of “magical realism” is so effective in a novel that is at once the history of a sub-continent, the story of a boy’s coming to age, the saga of a family and the off-key liberation-song of a people.

From “Midnight’s Children”:
Reality is a question of perspective; the further you get from the past, the more concrete and plausible it seems – but as you approach the present, it inevitably seems more and more incredible. Suppose yourself in a large cinema, sitting at first in the back row, and gradually moving up, row by row, until your nose is almost pressed against the screen. Gradually the stars’ faces dissolve into dancing grain; tiny details assume grotesque proportions; the illusion dissolves – or rather, it becomes clear that the illusion itself is reality.

Salman Rushdie won the Booker prize for Midnight’s Children in 1981. Midnight’s Children won the James Tait Black Prize, and was judged to be the “Booker of Bookers” (the best book to be awarded the Booker in the first 25 years) in 1993.

Midnight’s Children was came in at 25 on a poll conducted by the Guardian newspaper, listing the 100 best books of the 20th century. J.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the rings was voted 1st by readers and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 years of solitude was ranked 8th. Christopher Rollason’s summary of the article

Review of Midnight’s Children, from the archive

Writing the Raj away, an essay by Una Chaudhuri, from TURNSTILE.