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3.6 out of 5 stars
183
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 18 May 2007
Like many, I intially read this at University and didn't really enjoy it, but there is a huge gulf between reading and studying and when I came across it again on a forgotten book shelf I thought, "Well, it won the Booker of Bookers, I must've missed something." With this in mind, I read it again and oh, my goodness, I'm glad I did. I certainly missed something. Actually, I missed rather a lot (and not just lectures).

Midnight's Children deserves a place alongside One Hundred Years of Solitude as one of the finest examples of Magic Realism. It is allegorical, reflecting India's development as a country and more loosely Rushdie's own childhood, but the books stands up as a piece of writing in its own merit. The writing is vibrant; the (many) characters are well-observed; the humour is delightful; and the story is melancholy and touching in places but is stuffed with examples of Rushdie's elegant style.

To me, it is more than just an allegory for the birth and development of a nation, it is more than a great piece of writing; Midnight's Children has become an evocative depiction of how we seek to find things to lift ourselves from the futility of existence, to separate ourselves from the normal. By way of example, I give you Saleem's birth. It is normal in every way apart from the accident of timing that gives the book its title but it's the way he uses this accident of timing to lift his existence away from the mundane that I love.

Finishing this book left me hollow and a little lost. In short, I loved it and have subsequently read it again and again. Rushdie has done nothing that matches this. I doubt he, or anyone, can.
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on 14 April 2001
Im only 16 and wanted to see if I would handle a Rushdie piece of work. I grabbed this book at the airport before a trip to India and was at once surprised and exasperated. I did find it difficult and had to re-read many passages to try and comprehend what Rushdie was saying. But the idea, writing and ending were superb and Im glad I stayed with it, although as this has been described as one of Rushdie's "easier" novels to read I think I'll stay away from him for a few years yet!
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on 26 November 2002
Four and a half stars.
This was my first Rushdie book. A multilayered, multifaceted book. The story of "Saleem Sinai, later variously called Snotnose, Stainface, Baldy, Buddha and even Piece-of-the-Moon.." who was born at midnight, the precise moment of independence for his country, India. And 'thanks to the occult tyrannies those blandly saluting clocks" he was "mysteriously handcuffed to history". His story is the immortalisation of his memories, the "chutnification of history", "the pickling of time". It is the story of a nation finding it's identity, of impressions and memories, of people and events, of families and more.
But it is Rushdie's fantastical, magical prose that brings the book to life, colours, sights and especially smells, like you've never experienced before. It is not necessarily an easy read, for at least the first fifty pages I couldn't get it, but then something clicked and I just immersed myself in the wonderful text. Some of the passages I read again and again to savour the intricacies. It won't be everyone's idea of a good read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and believe that I will enjoy it more when I come back the second time.
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on 14 March 2007
Once upon a time I used the words `great' and `masterpiece' with frivolous regularity. Then I read Midnights Children. Salman Rushdie works on a different scale to other authors, seamlessly blending the magical and the realistic, enhancing and supplanting accepted history, and illuminating his tactile world to all. He is first and foremost a storyteller who juggles plots and ideas with consummate ease, building a tapestry of flawed heroes and three dimensional characters. He writes with such a conversational narrative voice that is a pleasure to sit back and wallow in his half real, half magical worlds. Common perception of Salman Rushdie is of a dense and unreadable author, for literary buffs rather than general readers. This is not true though his individual style takes some getting used to. If you have never read any Rushdie, start with his more recent work such as Fury to get into his groove. Once you have done this then grab this book, sit back and prepare to enter the magical world of the children of Midnight, eternally tied to the fate of their fledgling nation. You will not be disappointed.
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on 4 April 1999
Whilst it is through 'The Satanic Verses' that Rushdie has received most of his media and public attention I feel that it is around this book that any literary praise should be centred. It is this book that won the 1981 Booker Prize (and was subsiquently voted "Booker of Bookers") and it is in 'Midnight's Children' that the reader sees the true mastery of Rushdie's writing. His ability to blend magical fantasy with the stark realism of Post-colonial India is breath-taking; the dexterity with which he manipulates the english language is stunning.
It seems that this novel is often overlooked because of the controversy surrounding 'The Satanic Verses';whilst I am the first person to review this book, there are 13 reviews for the Verses. I strongly recommend that anyone thinking about reading Rushdie starts with 'Midnight's Children'. It is a novel drenched in the atmosphere of India which draws you into the centre of the sprawling continent. In my opinion, it is Rushdie's great, although often forgotten, masterpiece.
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on 2 August 2014
I have just struggled my way to the end of this monster, more to assuage the guilt that would have followed me for the rest of my life had I not finished it than from any marked sense of enjoyment. Rushdie is a gifted stylist, a highly intelligent man and well and widely informed about his personal and national history. But (I fear) he has little idea of a contract with his reader. The novel impedes its own progress in a way that would have left even Thomas Mann (the master of narrative impedence) gasping and Rushdie appears to revel in the self-indulgent liberty with which magical realism and post-colonial post-modernism seemingly endow him. It is a little like sharing your space with a highly precocious child with ADHD - impressive and irritating by turns, and simply too long. That sort of improvisatory meandering wears thin well before the end of the near 600 pages. I have a sense that there is an element of 'The Emperor's New Clothes' in the gushing admiration which has been lavished on this book. In my view, the emperor may not be stark naked but he is scantily clad and needs a new couturier and, possibly, a more assertive editor.
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on 15 September 2003
Having read 5 of Salman Rushdie's books I have to say that this is by far the best of them. I would recommend it to anyone. I dont read a great deal of his standard of writing & have found myself a little out of my depth with some parts of some of Rushdie's other books. Midnights Children is a funny, interesting, highly inventive & educational story from beginning to end, so well written it was a pleasure just to read the sentences & I felt almost disappointed when it was over because I would have to move to something else that I already knew wouldn't be as enjoyable. This goes down as my favourite book i've ever read. Also recommend 'The Ground Beneath Her Feet'.
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on 29 April 2005
This book is a magical realist fiction where Saleem Sinai represents India. This book deals with the history of India from 1910 to the declaration of the emergency in 1976 through the eyes (and nose) of Saleem Sinai, born on the stroke of Midnight August 15, 1947. Therefore this story is political, but the events do not detract from the interesting, magical and personal experiences of all the characters in the novel. This is perhaps why this form of "magical realism" is so effective in a novel that is at once the history of a sub-continent, the story of a boy's coming to age, the saga of a family and the off-key liberation-song of a people.
If you want to read a book with a wonderfully well written narrative containing magical events and a political message; For example, Saleem can talk to all the "midnight's children" in his head and they all have different magical powers then this book is for you.
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on 11 January 2014
This is one of the most extraordinary books I have ever read. I had never read any Salman Rushdie and suspected that I might find it a difficult read. It is in fact an utterly entrancing book. A book I just couldn't put down. Beautifully written, gripping and impossible to classify. Now I can see why it won the Booker of Bookers! Plus I learned a great deal about the history of India since independence. It is a very special book and one that lives up to all the hype. I would say that it is one of the best novels I have ever read.
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on 24 November 2002
Rushdie's writing style is incredibly dense and rich making the going quite slow (especially considering this is no mere slip of a volume!). If you apprecite complex writing and don't need to necessarily finish a book in the space of a train journey you may enjoy Midnight's Children. Some of the other reviewers have criticised Rushdie's writing style as being too interuptive of the narrative and giving the game away. This may seem difficult for most Western readers to grasp but is following the traditions of Indian literature (and especially oral traditions). Rushdie's authorical comments adds to the sense of doom building in the novel.
Having said that the end is quite a let down in some respects- many of the characters are built up never to be heard of again and the operatic sense of fate is never fully executed.
This is still worth a read though if you like a taxing, mind-bending book even if it is falwed in the reading.
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