Midnight’s Children is a novel about Saleem Sinai, a boy born at midnight on August 15, 1947, the exact moment that India gained independence from the British Empire. The novel brings together Saleem’s personal history with the history of India and explores themes of identity, memory, and history.
The novel is written in a lyrical style and is filled with rich, vivid imagery, wordplay, and a lot of magical realism, all of which give the novel a dreamlike quality. Although you will find some beautifully constructed sentences here and there, after a while it does oppress the reader a little, as it gets very tedious very quickly.
I am aware that this novel is beloved all over the world, but I can’t say I liked it much. It was a real drag to get through, my God, I just wanted it to be over! First of all, I found it extremely difficult to connect with anyone in this novel, most especially Saleem. Second, I think the magical realism added nothing but a means for the author to let you know how brilliant he is and therefore makes the reader extremely aware that they’re reading a book, rather than experiencing it. Third, the characters and the plot were very tedious which made you feel like the novel just drags on and on about nothing really, I mean Saleem was given 600 pages to develop, and yet… he quite simply didn’t!
That said, I have a copy of The Satanic Verses, which I think I’ll read sometime in the near future, so I will give Rushdie another go before I completely dismiss his works.
Overall, “Midnight’s Children” is a complex and highly ambitious novel that explores a range of themes and ideas, suitable for readers who don’t know much about India’s independence. Otherwise, I’d stay far away.