Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book Review: "Midnight's Children"


Author: Salman Rushdie

Language: English

Pages: 552

Publisher: Avon Books

First Published in India: April, 1982

Salman Rushdie is a well known author; he earned his reputation and celebrity status more or less because of this book “Midnight’s Children” only. This book enjoyed lot of controversy and as it always happens any controversy make any book overnight hit. I was eager to read this book for very long time. I read one book ‘Fury’ of Salman Rushdie earlier and I did not like that book at all. So I was little circumspect before picking up this book. But the controversy about the book also got better of me. And the fact that book is based on partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. So I had to read it.

The book uses the background of India Pakistan partition. The central character of this book is Saleem born at very moment when India gets its Independence at the stroke of 12 at night. So he automatically receives the semi celebrity status. But that’s not all; he also got some super natural powers. So his future and India’s future coincides with each other. He has telepathical connection with all the children who born on the midnight of Indian independence. All these kids born at midnight had some super natural powers. And Saleem is a platform where these midnight’s children can communicate with each other. This sounds interesting isn’t it? But there is twist in the story. In fact there are too many twists in this story. This book is frictional in true sense. The twist is that Saleem has been interchanged at the maternity hospital by a nurse with another midnight children Shiva. Then Saleem has to go through consequences of that.

The book starts with narrating the story of Saleem’s maternal grandfather, who is a doctor in Kashmir. Book describes his very interesting love story and his moving out of Kashmir. Then it follows with the story of Saleem’s mother Amina, her first marriage second marriage and birth of Saleem. After that story Saleem’s life starts which moves from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and again back to India. While the story of Saleem and his family progress, the book also narrates the transition of India as country from pre-independence to post-independence. It covers whole history of India and Indian subcontinent. Book describes the journey of India from pre-independence days of India of ‘Jalianwala mascara’, independence, partition, post-independence in Bombay and Pakistan. It also describes the birth of Bangladesh.

As I said before book enjoyed lot of hype due to controversial subject of the book. It covers almost all topics out of which if any author selects any one topic to write the book. He will easily attract the readers. ‘Midnight’s Children’ covers various topics from the Indian independence, partition, Pakistan’s militarization, birth of Bangladesh, to emergency period in India. But does it really deserve the popularity it got? I would say no. The book just had too many things happening in it. It is unnecessarily complicated.

If I have to rate this book I will give it 6 out of 10.

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