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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Imagery!
Wonderful Imagery!
Rushdie creates a wonderful panorama and guides us through post-1947 nehru's india toward indira's new india as his characters move across the length and breadth of india, associating themselves with history, witnessing its events, and occasionally being a part of them. From the old Kashmir with the silent dal lake to the massacre at...
Published on May 15 2002 by Kalyan

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but confusing
Salman Rushdie's writing style is easily to fall in love with, but it didn't take long before I realized that no matter how much I loved the way the words flowed on the page, I didn't really get what was going on. Rushdie's Midnight's Children is a densely packed tale of babies switched at birth, a nation divided, magic, history, love, prejudice, and war. It's...
Published on Sept. 6 2010 by Andrea


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Imagery!, May 15 2002
This review is from: Midnight's Children (Paperback)
Wonderful Imagery!
Rushdie creates a wonderful panorama and guides us through post-1947 nehru's india toward indira's new india as his characters move across the length and breadth of india, associating themselves with history, witnessing its events, and occasionally being a part of them. From the old Kashmir with the silent dal lake to the massacre at Jallianwalbagh, From the Streets and Forts of Delhi to the language riots of Bombay, From the military coups in pakistan, along the mysterious rann of kutch to the Mangroves of the Sunderbans, the story keeps turning while showing you all the nuances, sentiments, and personalities of the indian subcontinent. The characters are brilliantly depicted in rich variety and grab the readers attention immediately. It's not a history book but it presents history with stunning images in rushdie's wonderful hinglish. A wonderful read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but confusing, Sept. 6 2010
By 
Andrea (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
Salman Rushdie's writing style is easily to fall in love with, but it didn't take long before I realized that no matter how much I loved the way the words flowed on the page, I didn't really get what was going on. Rushdie's Midnight's Children is a densely packed tale of babies switched at birth, a nation divided, magic, history, love, prejudice, and war. It's beautifully written and often laugh-out-loud funny. It can also be confusing and frustrating.

"Midnight's Children" are those born within the first hour of the newly independent India. The story of Saleem's life is intended to parallel the events in India at the same time. It may be my own lack of historical knowledge of India and Pakistan during the 1960s/70s that made this a more difficult read than I'd anticipated.

I found that I had a hard time connecting with any of the main characters. The ones I was most sympathetic to were only around for a chapter at a time. The use of Padma as a means of addressing the reader got very tiresome after a while and didn't seem to be necessary. The whole novel seemed to be leading up to some sort of payoff that, in the end, never materialized. After a month of slogging through this novel, it was disappointing and unsatisfying.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hard read, but a good one, Oct. 9 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Midnight's Children (Paperback)
Ok I've re-read this book eight times, since the age of fourteen. I think that's why it took me till the sixth time to realize the book was about India, from Independence upto the 1970s. 'Midnight's Children' refers to that generations of Indians which lived right after independence, i.e. 1947. So-called because it was at midnight, 15th August 1947 that India(and Pakistan + the about-to-be Bangladesh) were born out of British India. It tells the story of Saleem Sinai who was born on Midnight, Independence day, and whose life is tied to that of his country's. Along with Saleem, another son was born almost at the same time: Shiva. These two represent the two different sides of India that are so familiar: Saleem represented the affluent, British-educated cosmopolitan and tolerant India. Shiva, represented the hungry-starving dog-eat-dog India, and how those two grew up together, separated, yet tied together. Plus all the hopes and dreams which were assocaited with the formation of this new India, the "tryst with Destiny" e.t.c. With the actual history of India as the backdrop. Saleem was one of many 'Midnight's Children', another name for India's democracy, and parliament. And goes on to show how Indira Gandhi neutered them (she declared a National Emergency, declared martial Law, and brought on the onset of disabling Socialist policies, the effect of which are still being felt). The book is written very well, but some of the Indian references will go over non-Indian readers' heads. Also, the state of India as Rushdie describes it is correct for the late 70s and early 80s, and has no bearing on the India of the 90s onwards. I think it's time to write a novel on Midnight's Grand-children, to the see the sparkling changes they are making on their nation. This book is only for people who have a significant interest in India. Not for the casual reader, and not a book to read for anybody who wants the most up-to-date story on India. Unfortunately there isn't a novel on that as of now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Liberating the Truth from History, Oct. 26 2010
By 
How do you tell the story of a country? Tell it as the story of a person. The main character and narrator of Midnight's Children, Saleem Sinia, is born (or at least someone is born, because there is a bit of a muddle) at the stroke of midnight, on August 15, 1947, the day that India gained its independence from British colonial rule. Narrating his own story, Saleem tells his country's story, and that of the other 1,001 children who were born that day, and blessed with special powers because of their special place in history --not that it helped with their survival in many cases, but then nation-building is fraught with risks.

Salman Rushdie, also fortuitously born in 1947, took to heart the classic advice to budding authors: write what you know. The result is beyond history, beyond testimony; it is art. He identifies the truth in the storytelling, or as he puts it: he liberates the truth from history.

The book is tightly interwoven although at times it seems loose and meandering. Saleem's faithful companion Padma speaks for the reader and urges Saleem to get back on track. My favorite aspect of the writing was the sensual quality: it is tremendously atmospheric, and permeated with considerable wry humor. The imagery is rich and resonating. Nothing is gratuitous. Every detail, every description, has either symbolic or historical relevance. This is what sets Salman Rushdie apart from writers who can spin a good yarn and keep the reader engaged, but who have no sense of literary construction, not to mention history.

History is the main theme of the book; personal history, the nation's history, and the need to create one's own history. History has cracks, it comes together and disintegrates, memory is faulty. But overall, history is always invented and it depends on who is doing the telling.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"
One aspect that several people at book club mentioned as being difficult was the fact that this is the kind of book that must be read while paying close attention; you can't skim through it or else you will miss key information. Often Rushdie will offhandedly toss out a fact, or mention an event, and then 20 pages later (not just one or two pages) it will be revealed that the aforementioned detail was a key turning point in the life of a character or the country.

Rushdie plays freely with the supernatural (ghosts, but are they?), oral storytelling, voices, prophecies, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu religious conventions, melding them into a unified, if surreal, whole. The priests are instructed to tell their Indian Christian converts who might be concerned about whether they will be accepted into Heaven if their skin is darks: Tell them that Jesus is blue as the "Hindu love-god, Krishna, is always depicted with blue skin. Tell them blue; it will be a sort of bridge between the faiths." This is a Solomonic solution rife with absurdity. Upon being told that Jesus is blue, Saleem's nurse Mary Pereira is indignant, "You should write to Holy Father Pope in Rome, he will surely put you straight; but one does not have to be Pope to know that the mens are not ever blue!"

The multiplicity of voices was another aspect that was problematic for some readers. Events unfold simultaneously. We get to hear different voices speaking at the same time, just as Saleem hears the voices of the midnight's children in his head. This is the literary convention that Rushdie uses to express what the main character is experiencing, as well as representing the conflicting forces in the country.

Midnight's Children is a book that is epic heroic, historic, and yet completely human and accessible, because for all its scope and grandeur, it is a story about life, as it unfolds and is told from the perspective of a fictitious narrator who reveals his world as he sees it, with his inconsistencies, frustrations, and memory lapses, but with the honesty of an inhabitant of the world he describes. He is no stranger to this land. And even though the readers of this book may come from widely divergent cultural backgrounds, the underlying humanity of the story is universal.

This is one of the great novels of the 20th century, and the Man Booker Prize committee agrees: in 1993 Salman Rushdie was awarded the Man Booker Prize as the best book selected in the past 25 years. It is also one of my favorite books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars where's the beef?, Nov. 2 2000
By 
Orrin C. Judd "brothersjudddotcom" (Hanover, NH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Midnight's Children (Hardcover)
I feel about Salman Rushdie's first big book roughly the same way I feel about Indian food. The food features a fascinating melange of spices, smells and textures, but I have no desire to consume it. Nor do I particularly comprehend the attraction of the cuisine of a dirt poor Third World country with more dietary taboos than you can shake a sitar at and, while heavy spicing is a perfectly logical substitute for substance, at the end of the meal one longs to ask: "Where's the beef?". Similarly, in his novel, Rushdie combines his signature Magical Realist style and the actual historical background of India since Independence with the family history of the Sinai's to create a bewildering mess of a novel that is heavy on Bombay slang. The language is pungent but indecipherable and the story is ambitious but confusing. The linguistic pyrotechnics and luxuriant prose have displaced the meat of the story.
I actually believe that India offers a unique opportunity to the author of today. With the end of the Cold War and peace in the Middle East, South Africa and Northern Ireland, many of the settings that offered built in tension have disappeared. India, however, remains a corrupt political state, is rife with ethnic tension and is nearly at war with both Pakistan and China. There are so many latent plot lines that it would seem an irresistible setting and I very much enjoyed books like Rohinton Mistry's Such a Long Journey and Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy (1993). But, both are much more traditional, Western-style novels. As is usually the case, the injection of magical realism into Rushdie's story ends up detracting from his tale rather than enhancing it. The effort to create an Indian, or postcolonial, style did not work for me; a straightforward narrative, stripped of hocus pocus gimmickry, would have been much more enjoyable.
GRADE: C-
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5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific journey, Jan. 4 2013
I read this over an extended period of time and enjoyed every word and tale written. Rushdie's descriptions are brilliant and his stories are very funny.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a "must read", Sept. 24 2003
By 
Ben E (Knoxville, TN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Midnight's Children (Hardcover)
I don't have the time or inclination to go into a long rant about what makes this book so outstanding, but I will say that it is by far the best book I've ever picked up. I learned a lot about India and its turbulent history, but that was just an added bonus. As with any great novel, some of the characters in the book reminded me of myself, and taught me some things about myself, but that too was just a bonus. Rushdie's writing style is very pleasing and his methods of storytelling are far better than anything I've ever read. Those are the things that make this book so great. You simply MUST read it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Booker of the Booker, Dec 28 2010
By 
A. Pendse (Toronto, ON, Canada) - See all my reviews
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It's no surprise the novel, Midnight's Children has won the Booker Prize 3 times. It is one of the best novels of all time. It has become my favorite novel, and will be yours too. It is a must read, and worth every penny.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Love the writing style, June 18 2003
By 
Kerri Butler (Dallas, TX) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Midnight's Children (Paperback)
Rushdie's writing style is magic to read, and his words pull you into the stories he weaves. At some points in the book, you do start to notice how long it is, but for the most part, it's very enjoyable! I will read another of his books!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive story-telling, June 18 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Midnight's Children (Paperback)
Midnight's Children is perhaps strange in that it is an immensely popular novel but is also very intellectual and even esoteric. The story is narrated by Saleem Sinai, who was born at the exact moment of India's Independence. He is a very self-reflective narrator, who lets us in on his own perspective on his story-telling, as well as telling us the reaction of his servant Padma who is also listening to the story and who affects it as well. There are many twists and turns regarding the relationships between characters; there are name changes, nick-names, false-starts. This is of course what Salman Rushdie is interested in.
Rushdie has said that he thought this novel is about excess. You can see what he means as so much is packed into this novel and it is a credit to the author that he keeps this up all the way through (it took 5 years to write, apparently). But it also feels like it has been worked at, and requires a fair bit of working on the part of the reader. There are touching moments, and comic moments. These are genuine, but must be won by the reader who has to pay attention and keep up with the complexity of the novel.
There is so much in this book that you notice new things about it each time you read it. Rushdie has said that he quite likes it when he comes across words from different cultures in books (e.g. Jewish phrases in Roth). It would be best if readers share Rushdie's view when reading Rushdie himself as there are all sorts of words and phrases here that are not all explained.
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Midnight's Children
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (Hardcover - Oct. 17 1995)
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