Sunday, June 8, 2008
Laura's Review - Midnight's Children
Saleem Sinai was born at midnight on August 15, 1947, just as India attained independence. At the age of 10, he becomes aware that all children born in the historic first hour of independence are endowed with special gifts: It was as though -- if you will permit me one moment of fancy in what will otherwise be, I promise, the most sober account I can manage -- as though history, arriving at a point of the highest significance and promise, had chosen to sow, in that instant, the seeds of a future which would genuinely differ from anything the world had seen up to that time. (p. 234) Saleem's story plays out in accordance with a prophesy delivered to his mother shortly before his birth. His story is a metaphor for India. And, over the course of this book, the journeys and fates of Midnight's Children parallel India's growing pains.
I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. At first, I found Rushdie's prose a bit wordy, and I'm not a big fan of magical realism. But once the secret of Midnight's Chidren was revealed, I was hooked and found this book hard to put down. I was also intrigued because Rushdie himself was born in 1947; to what extent did political and economic events shape him? How much of his story is embodied in Midnight's Children?
This book is on the shortlist for this year's "Best of Booker" award, having already been recognized as the "Booker of Bookers" on the 25th anniversary of the prize. It's a a noteworthy book and one I'm glad to say I've read.