by Salman Rushdie
Started: 2nd Februrary 2015
Finished: 15th February 2015
This novel is the first featured on my Postcolonial Fictions module. I’ve heard many great things about Rushdie and his novels, the premise of Midnight’s Children sounded really interesting too. However, I must admit, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was hoping to.
Midnight’s Children is narrated by the protagonist Saleem Singai who comes into the world in very intense and unusual circumstances, which gives him some very unusual characteristics. We follow him from pre-birth all the way to present day through his dramatic and tragic life.
It took me a very long time to get into this book and I think that’s partly to do with having a lot of characters introduced at the start – only for a lot of them to leave (or to possibly be mentioned or come back later). In addition I did find it difficult to like most of the characters. I eventually grew to like Saleem, as he’s a very unreliable narrator he can be quite frustrating. However, I did like how he would argue with himself or correct himself in the present. I also really liked Padma by the end of the novel. At first I found her a little annoying but I enjoyed how she would question Saleem, argue with him and keep him focused on the truth of the story. Although she’s only really a plot device, I was very grateful that she was there.
The language of the novel was, in parts, very poetic and there were some really memorable lines. However, most of the time I found my attention lost and I was easily distracted. This changed more towards the end of the novel, but I did have to power through to get there. I think if I knew more about the history of India it would have been easier to follow and keep track of – especially with the jumps in narrative. I quite liked how Saleem felt he was a large influence on some major events in India history. Although, I am still unsure how I feel about Saleem’s telepathic powers with the other “midnight children” and unique sense of smell. Whilst it was interesting, I felt it was quite ridiculous.
The novel is split into three books. Book Three was by far my favourite as I felt there was a great mix of Saleem’s personal life in his past (and briefly in his present); dramatic scenes; a lot of political action and it also answered some questions I had (some of which all the way from Book One). Each chapter was around 20 pages so even though it doesn’t necessarily feel like you’re reading much – you actually are!
Overall I was expecting a lot more from Midnight’s Children and probably wouldn’t have made it past Book One had it not been for a class. However, I’m pleased I did and I feel this will be a novel that I will appreciate more after studying the context and novel itself.