Pete's Reviews > Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
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Sep 29, 2008

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Read in September, 2008

There is a quote in Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children," spoken by the protagonist and narrator Saleem Sinai: "To understand just one life, you have to swallow the world."

This is one of those brilliant books that is easier to appreciate than enjoy. It is an allegory about India's history around the time of independence and partition, told through (and explained by) the life and ancestry of Saleem, who was born at exactly midnight of India's independence day in 1947.

Rushdie's prose is dialed up full volume for the entire book. There are few breaks. There are dozens of characters, and dozens of anecdotes that the narrator weaves together in explaining how his life story meshes with India's story. Rushdie knows he's spreading it thick, because he mercifully conducts a plot summary every hundred pages or so. He even pokes fun at his "swallow the world" conceit at the end of the novel, by introducing a character who does nothing more than defecate in the street.

The critic James Wood coined the phrase "hysterical realism", and I think it applies to this book. The style is intense, dense, borderline manic, has magical elements, while overlaying specific events in the political history of India.

I definitely appreciate the mastery. This is great literature. It's just a little exhausting.
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06/12 marked as: read

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message 1: by Ally (new)

Ally The brand new group - Bright Young Things - is nominating books to read in January & Midnight's Children is among them. Its the perfect place to discuss your favourite books and authors from the early 20th Century, why not take a look...

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