Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

A worthy winner of the ‘Booker of Bookers’,¬†Midnight‚Äôs Children¬†(1981) is a fantastic
achievement in fiction by British Indian Salman Rushdie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salman_Rushdie and http://www.salman-rushdie.com/ and  http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/04/18/specials/rushdie.html), this is already deemed a classic. It is a sophisticated blend of magical realism and historical fiction setting before us the (un)reality of post-colonial India. The tale is delivered in gloriously witty and irreverent prose.

The chief character Saleem Sinai has been born at midnight, the midnight of India‚Äôs independence, and found himself mysteriously ‚Äėhandcuffed to history‚Äô by the coincidence. He is one of 1,001 children born at the midnight hour on August 15th¬†1947, each of them endowed with an extraordinary talent ‚Äď and whose privilege and curse it is to be both master and victims of their times. Through Saleem‚Äôs gifts ‚Äď inner ear and wildly sensitive sense of smell ‚Äď we are drawn into a fascinating family saga set against the vast, colourful background of the India of the 20th century. The imagination of Rushdie fizzes throughout and he offers a staggering firework display of playful language. Time and again as regards both ideas and expression I found myself wondering ‚ÄėHow¬†DID¬†he think of that?‚Äô If you can commit to a complex read this will repay you in spades. No doubt thousands of excellent pieces of fiction were written in the twentieth century, but if there is a greater achievement than this, I know not of it.

Follow up this novel with¬†The Moor‚Äôs Last Sigh¬†(1995) (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moors-Last-Sigh-Salman-Rushdie/dp/0224038141/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1389274245&sr=8-1)¬†The¬†central character of this novel, ‚ÄėMoor‚Äô Zogoiby, only son of a wealthy, artistic-bohemian Bombay family, finds himself¬†at a¬†point of crisis where all value systems seem to crumble. His mother, a famous painter and an emotional despot, worships beauty, but Moor is ugly, he has a deformed hand. Moor falls in love with a married woman; when their secret is revealed, both are expelled.¬†A suicide pact is proposed, but only the woman dies. Moor chooses to accept his fate and¬†plunges into a life of depravity in Bombay, then leaves for London where he becomes embroiled in a major financial scandal. The novel ends in Spain, in the studio of a painter who was the lover of Moor‚Äôs mother. In a violent climax Moor has, once more, to decide whether to save the life of his lover by sacrificing his own. This is another complex and stunning work of fiction from Rushdie.

Midnight’s Children was brought to the screen in 2012 by director Deepa Mehta. Screenplay by Salman Rushdie. Stars Rajat Kapoor, Vansh Bhardwaj and Anupam Kher. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1714866/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1)

Available on DVD at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Midnights-Children-DVD-Satya-Bhabha/dp/B00AAXZAZ2/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1389273735&sr=8-18&keywords=salman+rushdie

There is no better time to re-visit this classic than August 2017, the 70th anniversary of Partition in India. BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting an adaptation cf. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0909rfb

Enquire at your local library. Check if this sublime work of modern fiction is in stock by consulting the online catalogue at Home | South Lanarkshire Libraries (sllclibrary.co.uk)

672 pages in Vintage Classics paperback edition

First published 1981

ISBN 978-0099578512

Salman Rushdie

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