This is definitely, without a doubt, the best of the Booker prize winners that I’ve read so far. I loved it! An amazing novel, which is somehow both the story of one individual and the history of an entire country, Midnight’s Children is a really fun read, completely bananas and fantastic and tragic and just brilliant.
Saleem Sinai is writing his life story, and it just so happens to be one of the most extraordinary stories every committed to paper. Born on the stroke of midnight on the day India became an independent nation, Saleem’s life has been, he tells us, inextricably linked to that of his country. Present at, or possibly responsible for, the pivotal moments in India’s history, Saleem tells us of his journey from middle-class snot-nosed kid to outcast teenage slum-dweller to soldier to magician’s assistant to enemy of the state to pickle maker, and explains how his own experiences are linked to those of the treacherous politicians, murderous generals and martyred poets who have shaped the history of India.
A dazzling combination of history and myth, Midnight’s Children is a magical-realist retelling of the story of the modern Indian nation-state seen through the eyes of a boy who is both completely unique and an exemplar of his time and place. Saleem’s story really is, as he says, an amazing “chutnification” of history. The writing too is amazing. Rushdie has a real gift with words; his sentences are complex and ornate but compelling and never obfuscating, and the way he makes them twist and turn back on themselves, making clear what was foreshadowed, is really fun to read. This is definitely a book I will read again and again. There’s so much in it to admire and enjoy, it’s a real pleasure.