Midnight’s Children By Salman Rushdie

Midnight’s Childrenby Salman Rushdie

Random House, New York, 2006 (original published in 1981)

From my TBR pile.  Winner of the Booker Prize and the Booker of Booker Prize.  I read this  novel as part of a group read organized by Arti Meredith and Mrs. B.  It has been wonderful reading along with others.  My thoughts on the first sections of this novel can be found here, here and here.

Book Three brings the story full circle.  Saleem, having lost most of his family in the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, finds himself in 1971 amidst the  fight for an independent Bangladesh.   Throughout this section Rushdie makes a strong argument for the role that politics, graft, collusion and warfare played in the shaping of this part of the world.  Saleem is forced into the army, witnesses atrocities and runs away.  He looses his memory, his friends die, he regains his memory, he marries and has a son, but not really.   Like Saleem himself his son, Aadam Sinai, is not really who he appears to be. And he is born at a time of great upheaval, just like his father and the rest of  Midnight’s Children.

This final part of Midnight’s Children  moves away from magic and brings history into focus.  Places and events from the beginning of the novel are mirrored towards the end.  I found it difficult, this last section, mainly because the novel loses the many of the elements  that enticed me in the beginning, Saleem’s family’s history and the mythical and magical histories of India and Pakistan.  I found myself enveloped in politics, particularly Rushdie’s scathing depiction of Indira Gandhi, her son Sanjay and their declared  State of Emergency.  I know some of this history.  I started skimming parts of  Book Three and not giving it the attention it deserved.   I  do understand Rushdie’s point,  I just need a break from this kind of historical fiction.

I think it was a certain scene of a pile of bodies that threw me off.  I am tired of war, of human failings and our ability to hate the “other”. What feeds our perverse need for destruction?

I did love this book and someday I will revisit  Midnight’s Children and give Book Three the attention it deserves.  The film adaptation, written by Salman Rushdie and directed by Deepa Mehta, is supposed to be released in October.  I am looking forward to it.

I want to thank the organizers of this read-along.  It has been a great experience.

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5 Comments

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

5 responses to “Midnight’s Children By Salman Rushdie

  1. Gavin,

    You’re absolutely right… Book Three probably is the most political. And I think that’s exactly what Rushdie is saying: “I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me… To understand me you’ll have to swallow a world.” You’ve aptly pointed out too that history has to be brought into focus in order to understand a nation, or an individual. We all have our favorite parts in the book. I’m sorry that Book Three just may be a bit too much realism than fantasy for you. ;) As we wrap this up, a hearty thank-you for your participation in this Read-Along. Your sharing is much valued… the camaraderie much treasured. I’ve enjoyed the communal reading experience. Maybe some time in the future for another book? ;)

  2. Pingback: Midnight’s Children: Book Three « Ripple Effects

  3. aartichapati

    Ooh, I didn’t know there was a movie coming out! It must be quite an involved movie. I am reading A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth now and there are some political bits in there that are difficult for me to follow. It is taking me a REALLY long time to read that book :-)

  4. I didn’t know there was a film adaptation of this book – I look forward to seeing it. As for the book itself – it was only on my third attempt that I could finish it, and I didn’t break it down, but just read the entire thing in one go. I think, if I had broken it down, I wouldn’t be able to give the final bit the attention it deserves. Finishing this book though did feel like a great accomplishment, and I really did enjoy it.

  5. Pingback: New Year’s Wishes and Favorite Books from 2012 | Page247

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