Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie – Book Two

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Random House, New York, 2006

From my TBR pile.

I am reading this wonderful novel as part of a group read organized by Arti Meredith and Mrs. B.  Heartfelt thanks to them for allowing others to join in.

We are reading Book Two in two parts, the first up section to the chapter titled The Kolynos Kid.  Our hero,  Saleem Sinai, writes his history, reads it to his plump and beloved Padma, all the time echoing events that rumble through the turbulent mix of cultures and religions that was India in the mid-decades of the twentieth century.  And we are slowly introduced to Saleem’s special talent, his ability to read the minds of all of his country’s  Midnight’s Children.

     Let me sum up: at a crucial point in the history of our child-nation, at a time when Five Year Plans were being drawn up and elections were approaching and language marchers were fighting over Bombay, a nine-year-old boy named Saleem Sinai acquired a miraculous gift.  despite the many vital uses to which his abilities could have been put to use by his impoverished, underdeveloped country, he chose to conceal his talents, frittering them away on inconsequential voyeurism and petty cheating.  This behavior – not, I confess, the behavior of a hero – was the direct result of a confusion in his mind, which inevitably muddled up morality – the desire to do what is right – and popularity – the rather more dubious desire to do what is approved of.  Fearing parental ostracism, he suppressed the news of his transformation;  seeking parental congratulations, he abused his talents at school.  This flaw in his character can partially be excused on the grounds of his tender years; but only partially.  Confused thinking was to bedevil much of his career.

I can be quite tough in my self-judgements when I choose.  from page 196.

As I read this vast  novel I am continually receiving questioning looks from Mr G.  It is because I am giggling to myself or making odd appreciative noises at Rushdie choice of words.   Saleem’s childhood is a mash-up of old and new, a perfect mirror for his young country.  I can not wait to see what happens to him and the rest of Midnight’s Children.

     So among the midnight children were infants with powers of transmutation, flight, prophecy and wizardry…but two of us were born on the stroke of midnight.  Saleem and Shiva, Shiva and Saleem, nose and knees and knees and nose…to Shiva, the hour had given the gifts of war (of Rama, who could draw the undrawable bow, of Arjuna and Bhima; the ancient prowess of Kurus and Pandavas united, unstoppable in him!)…and to me, the greatest talent of all – the ability to look into the hearts and minds of men.  From page 229.

Reading Midnight’s Children reminds me of a wonderful production of the Mahabharata directed by Peter Brooks that I saw years ago.  It has been released on DVD.  See it if you can.

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9 Comments

Filed under Booker, Historical Fiction, India, Salman Rushdie, Thoughts

9 responses to “Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie – Book Two

  1. Pingback: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, Book Two (Part A) « Ripple Effects

  2. It’s quite entertaining, isn’t it? Yes, I’ve made those ‘noises’ too, sometimes a chuckle, sometimes LOL. Thanks for joining us, and let’s continue on with our exploration. I’ve added your post to the current Book Two, Part A list on my blog. And oh how I look forward to the film adaptation… Rushdie himself was involved in the screenplay.

  3. I can picture you smiling to yourself as you read, which I am doing myself. I find Rushdie’s writing both factual and fantastic at the same time. No matter how absurd he makes a situation it still seems to ring true for me. Perhaps because our world has many absurd aspects regardless of which country one calls home.

    I loved reading your thoughts, Gavin, which so enrich this book for me. It’s so wonderful to read your, and Arti’s, posts.

  4. I like the two Rushdie selections you chose to include in your write-up. These are dog-eared and underlined in my copy of the book, too. And I know what you mean about laughing aloud, while reading the book in the companionable company of others. I don’t even try to explain the funny — since it would get lost in my translation — but instead, simply apologize. Then laugh some more.

    Enjoyed your post.

  5. Rushdie’s language is wonderful! Even in the books of his that I’ve enjoyed less, I’ve still been so impressed with the way he writes. He has a knack for finding the perfect word.

  6. ds

    I’ve been making those “noises” too! Rushdie’s exuberant prose requires them. Such an obvious love of words and myth and the richness of life (including snot and soiled laundry). I can’t wait to see how Saleem–and Shiva–develops his gift and what directions their noses and knees will take them. Thank you for a delightful commentary.

  7. Pingback: Midnight’s Children By Salman Rushdie | Page247

  8. Pingback: Midnight’s Children Read-along: Book Two (until Alpha and Omega) | Dolce Bellezza

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