Born at the stroke of midnight at the exact moment of India’s independence, Saleem Sinai is a special child. However, this coincidence of birth has consequences he is not prepared for: telepathic powers connect him with 1,000 other ‘midnight’s children’ all of whom are endowed with unusual gifts. Inextricably linked to his nation, Saleem’s story is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirrors the course of modern India at its most impossible and glorious.
The writing on this was beautiful, but sometimes it seemed to sacrifice the plot. I found the first 90 or so pages difficult to get through because the writing style does mean you have to work at it. However by the time I’d got into the plot I really stopped noticing how difficult the writing was to read, in fact I appreciated it because it meant I didn’t just rush through the book. I had to take it slow and that meant I really read every word and appreciated what I was reading.
What stopped the writing style overtaking the plot? It’s really got to be the characters. What was actually going on was interesting enough but I wanted to see what happened to the characters I grew to love, Mary, the Brass Monkey, Saleem, and most of all Padma. I liked Padma almost immediately because she said just what I was thinking in the harder sections of the book, it was almost like Rushdie was using Padma as some sort of internal critique of his own writing- a sort of way to point to the read that, yes, he knew he was going on and it gave hope that it would soon get back to the point. Having said that the waffling did make it seem much more like you were being told a story by a real person and I loved that.
I also really liked how this book could almost be a historical novel, even with the fantasy element I learnt lots about Indian history that I hadn’t previously known. In fact in the introduction of my edition (the Vintage Classics edition, which is the edition shown at the top of the page) Rushdie said that while in the west this book is read as a fantasy novel in India it is seen more as historical fiction, because in ways it’s so true to life. I don’t know if he’s a reliable source but I’m sure at least some of the history is correct. If you get/have this edition do read the introduction, but wait till you’ve read the novel itself, the introduction will be more interesting then, and make sense!