Why you should read Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie?

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Midnights Children,Salman Rushdie

“I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I’m gone which would not have happened if I had not come.”― Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children.

India has a diverse culture of art and literature. With over 500 languages of the country, India has books of all cultures and dialects. But not only do Indians take pride in their languages they also celebrate the unity in the diversity. Indian English literature might have a shorter history but is rich with award-winning masterpieces no book lover should miss out on. One such British-Indian author is Salman Rushdie whose ‘Midnight’s Children’ is the cult classic magical turn of India’s one of the most gruesome events- The Partition.

Midnight’s Children is a proven hit with both critics and the reading public as it offers numerous views of re-imagining the events of partition. And though the book is not surrounded completely by 1947, it takes references time and again to define the life of the protagonist and other characters of the novel. In essence, it is a pure reflection of society in turmoil times.

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie- A tough narrative, but a rare treat!

The story begins with the countdown on 14th August 1947, as a woman goes into labor hours before the gruesome slaughter of Independence. As India was witnessing Independence after 200 years of British rule, the hard-won independence cost thousands of lives and partition of India into two separate independent nations. At the stroke of midnight, the woman gave birth to an infant in perfect synchronicity. This is the plot on which the dazzling novel by Rushdie is based.

“Oh, spell it out, spell it out: at the precise instant of India’s arrival at independence, I tumbled forth into the world.”

Midnights Children,Salman Rushdie

Protagonist Saleem Sinai’s birth happens on the stroke of midnight on the 15th of August 1947, and since then his destiny is tied to that of India. His narrative stretches of 30 years of his life jumping forward and backward with time. To put it simply, the 31-year long narration takes a turn on religious divisions, linguistic battles, Indira Gandhi’s emergency, the tragedies of partition, and the birth of Bangladesh. It is the most illuminating work of India’s postcolonial literature.

Perhaps the greatest enigma of all was Saleem’s magical powers which are related to the time of his birth. And Saleem is not the only one to possess these magical powers, as it turns out that all the kids born on the stroke of midnight on the 15th of August 1947 possess superpowers. One of them is Parvati who is called The Witch, a spectacular conjurer. Another main character is Saleem’s nemesis, Shiva. Saleem possesses the divine power of telekinesis and through this gift, he forms a vast network of children with extraordinary powers.

Through this network, he guides them in the world of postcolonial aftermath including migration, revolution, and even identity crises. As Rushdie too like Saleem was born in 1947, his experience of these events reflects well on his writing. Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize in 1981 and was deemed to be “the best novel of all winners” on two occasions, marking the 25th and the 40th anniversary of the prize. Rushdie’s take on magical realism combined with realistic and natural narrative gives hope and optimism to Sinai’s life and that of his counterparts.

Rushdie’s novel gives references to Indian and Pakistani cultures from cuisine, religion, folktales to marriage and death. The language in Midnight’s Children is rich, dense, and playful with witful jokes and larger-than-life characters. The story proceeds in different parts of the Indian subcontinent from Kashmir to Agra and Bombay to Dhaka. The book comprises a life story, as Saleem Sinai recounts orally to his lover ‘Padma’. After the book’s publication in 1981, many young writers wrote novels inspired by Midnight’s Children, which continued for more than a decade. The popularity rose to an extent that the decade after its publication has been fondly recognized as ‘Post Rushdie’.

Midnights Children,Salman Rushdie

The book leaves the readers so smitten that the temptation to cascade is nearly profuse. And though the book is enriched with lust for life it also beautifully sheds light on the miserable realities of the mortal world. The more it is temptatious the more it is a hard read. Because any book having references from masterpieces like 1001 Nights or the Quran itself, is likely to present rich yet complex American, Indian as well as European cultures and religions. Reading this coup needs concentration and no skip through as one part missed is the whole book missed.

“To understand just one life you have to swallow the world … do you wonder, then, that I was a heavy child?”

With this, even so, the story is warm and compassionate, Rushdie’s narration over the events of partition is fascinatingly humane. And we are convinced that Rushdie is worth reading.

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