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3.7 out of 5 stars
203
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 29 December 2016
This is one of the most nuanced works on India and undoubtedly one of the most creative, insightful and funny novels to have been published in the 20th century. Saleem's story is beguiling at the best of times. It is a very challenging novel, but being persistent and trying to appreciate it makes for a very rewarding reading experience. This is challenging I would suggest, precisely because it confounds our normal expectations for what a novel should be. It is a highly conceptual piece of work which mirrors the complexity of multiple indentities and post-colonial reconstruction in India within the narrative itself, which weaves across different time zones in an effort to negotiate between different phases in the history of Indian to sshow how the past traditions have an enduring influence in a new nation. The history of India is tied to the history of Salem himself, a telepathic character who begins to embody India in its amazing, if slightly dizzying variety!

The prose is sublime and Rushdie has few rivals when it comes to humour . It engages with the English language in very unique ways, which testifies to the inherent pliability of the most widely spoken language. It incorporates idioms peculiar to the sub-continent in a way that appropriates a language, so saturated with the history of authority, to make it reflect the needs and character of an Indian family!
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on 14 August 2015
I have finally managed to finish this book skipping and hopping at times. At the beginning it was good, there were parts of the book, which was magical and very captivating so continued. Now I finished and it left a very sour taste in my brain. Too many very long, endless sentences to describe nothing vital, criss crossing all over the place and repeating same ideas. I like to read heavy books, I enjoy Dostoyevski, Tolstoy for example. At times they become hard to read to but persisting and finishing the book is always rewarding. This one wasn't rewarding for me. I also don't like fantastic elements in books and even movies. Occasionally some art can pass through that barrier in my brain and amazes me. This one didn't do that either.
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on 2 August 2014
'MIdnight's Children' has received so much unctuous praise that it almost seems tactless not to join in the bouquet-throwing rituals. But I don't entirely see it, and perhaps I simply lack taste or the necessary literary perspicacity. To summarise, I feel that there is the core of an excellent novel here - it is perhaps about half the length of the published book and surrounded by piles of discarded material. But what we get is, I fear, the standard posture of the post-modern novel where the author feels free, indeed obliged, to monkey around with the reader's reasonable expectations. Diversion, narrative slowing, seeming irrelevance, flights of literary fancy and all the hallmarks of the author playing literary games with the reader and saying 'Look, I am in control, this is my book and if you don't like it, well tough!' abound. If you like this, fine - I can put up with it to a degree, if done really well but, in my view, Rushdie simply overdoes it and perhaps his editor should have stepped in. I don't doubt Rushdie's considerable talent but I also can't help wondering if the applause heaped on this Booker of Bookers isn't partly in recognition of Rushdie's post-fatwa difficulties. If they ever release a revised and shorter edition of this book, I shall read it again with interest. In the meantime, I shall adhere to my view that it is in essence a promising work-in-progress which was released before its time. If those views brand me a literary Philistine, then be it so. No doubt the child who spotted that the emperor wasn't wearing any clothes was not met with universal approbation either.
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on 11 March 2017
Satisfactory
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on 11 September 2013
There is no getting away from the fact that this is a huge book - huge in its word volume, huge in its wonderful use of the English language, huge in its scope, huge in its characters, in its styles of writing, huge in its diverse use of magic realism, and just like the huge country of India - completely chaotic. For all these reasons this has to be one of the most frustrating, difficult, annoying and crazy books I have ever read. I never thought about giving up, but I did have to relook at how I was to read and absorb this thing. After taking about 2 weeks to read about 100 pages I decided I had to treat this tome like a project. So I found some study notes on line - good old Sparks - and set myself the target of doing the thing chapter by chapter. It worked - nothing like taking small steps to achieve the end goal, and I am pleased that I saw it out to the end. But definitely not a book for the faint hearted.

So why did I persevere? Having lived in India for a short period of time, and being there when it celebrated 60 years of independence, this book has been on my very long list of must reads. And Salman Rushdie, as the winner of two Booker Prizes, as well as the Booker of Bookers, plus being considered one of the most influential and controversial writers of the twentieth century, is an author I felt I should read. When in India I had read the really quite amazing book he wrote for his young son from whom he was separated while in hiding after the fallout from 'The Satanic Verses'. 'Haroun and the Sea of Stories' is one of the most stunning stories I have read - it really is magical and an absolute gem to read with a child.

So I thought 'Midnight's Children' - should be a doddle. Oh no, how wrong I was! There is so much of 'Haroun' in 'Midnight's Children' - the guy is a genius with his word pictures and his captivating writing. It is mesmerizing to read. But there is just so much of it that it is hard at times to keep track of the story, or where the characters are, even who they are and what they are doing.

Midnight's Children are the children born between midnight and 1am on the night of 15 August 1947. (Salman Rushdie himself was born in 1947.) The first born baby was Saleem Sinai who is the main character, either as the narrator or being narrated about. There were 1001 (as in the Arabian Nights - the book is a tsumami of symbolism, drawn from the 300 million Hindu Gods, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Indian mythology) babies born during this hour who are all blessed with some sort of magic power. Saleem, being the closest to midnight has the greatest powers of all - the ability to reach into the minds of all the others and communicate with them. The story of Saleem and his family parallels the story of modern India/Pakistan/Bangladesh from the end of World War I until the 1980s. It also traverses huge portions of the India subcontinent beginning in Kashmir, moving to Delhi, Agra, Bombay, Pakistan, Bangladesh and various other places. The transition from British colony to fully independent and functional democracy has not been easy or straightforward, and the book is full of the darker chapters in modern India's history - Partition itself, ongoing Muslim/Hindu conflict especially in Kashmir, the Bangladeshi war, Prime Minister Ghandi's sterilization programmes and suppression of opposition elements.

It is not a pretty story. But nevertheless I am glad I have read it, it has further broadened my understanding of this extremely complex region and population known as the Indian sub continent. If you decide to read this - take some notes with you.
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on 25 July 2016
It's an interesting book, but I found it very difficult at some parts to follow. It feels like Rushdie is just rambling. I also felt that there were too many characters and that sometimes made it difficult to keep up with what was happening.
It took me about a year on and off to actually get through this monster of a book.
However, the magical realism portrayed through this book is wonderful. I found it so interesting to learn about India's (and Pakistan and Bangladesh) indecent history intertwined with this story.
I'm glad I got to the end of the book as it felt like a marathon. A marathon that unfortunately I didn't enjoy
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on 15 July 2017
Brilliantly written and displays the unique imagination of Salman Rushdie. It takes a while to get the rhythm of the writing but persistence is richly rewarded with a rainbow of language and a story that is completely mesmerising and unpredictable, Read it.
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on 22 April 2017
If you like skipping about in time like a frog on a pond and multiple digressions then this book is for you!
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on 16 August 2017
Wonderful, magical, and a challenging read for some not familiar with Rushdie's style, this is a book I've read many times now. Together with 'A Suitable Boy', my favourite book about India during the time of Partition.
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on 22 April 2017
I struggled to read this and couldn't finish it.
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