October 3, 2010

Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

Saleem Sinai is the protagonist with supernatural powers. He was born at the stroke of midnight of India's independence. In this story they are hundreds of children born at this magical hour. Each with a gift. The children born closer to the stroke of midnight have more powerful gifts. Shiva is Saleem's nemesis who was also born at the stroke of midnight.

Saleem has the power to read peoples thoughts and smell peoples emotions. Shiva has the gift of War. Parvati had this gift of sorcery. In all there are 420 of these Midnight's Children with spectacular gifts.

The story starts with Saleem's grandfather Adam Aziz and weaves through the history of India during that time. The author takes a very unique look at peoples thoughts through a 'child's eye'. He gives a stunning lesson of the history of India's formative years. He gives a picture of how Mumbai was created, how India came together as a country. He describes the partition eloquently and gives a perspective from both sides of the Border.

He intertwines the magical gifts with the actions of Indira and Sanjay Gandhi. He gives a beautiful description of various location such as the mangrove forest of Sundarbans.

Ironically his son is born at the stroke of Midnight when Emergency is proclaimed in India. His son is born with large ears and implied to have supernatural hearing. Towards the end Saleem predicts 1001 generations of such children.

This is a very unique book that mixes magic and history. Be patient with this book as it is long and divided into three books. Saleem and the band of Midnight's Children do not come till much later in the book. This book will reward your patience with a rich picture of human emotions and the emotions of Nations.

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