Midnight's Children: A BBC Between the Covers Big Jubilee Read Pick Midnight's Children discussion


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Midnight's Children - in or out of context

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Richard I've almost finished this "Booker Prize Winner of Booker Prize Winners" (130 pages remaining) and was wondering - my wife keeps lambasting me for not reading up on India / Pakistan history in relation to the book - should I have done so?

I am basically bobbing along with it reading the narrators story.

Given the book is both Saleem's and India's story am I missing half the tale? Have other readers gone digging to get a firm grasp of the full context and setting of the book?

Is the book better if you have a complete grasp of India's history from the 1960's onward?


Bill No one has a complete grasp of India's history, from any date onward. But knowing SOME of the main ideas of Indian history would add to your depth of understanding the book.


Marcy Rushdie reveals the history in the events he describes. Depending upon who is in power, regular people or families are heroes or foes. Certainly knowing more about Indian history would reveal each event Rushdie describes in more depth. India has a very complicated history.


Lily Novels like Midnight's Children can be a pleasant way to get a grasp on an area or history with which one is unfamiliar. Of course, if the writer is good (as Rushdie is), one is probably going to grasp more if one has some background or supplements one's reading.

I just read a novel centered in Nigeria and have found a bit of Internet searching -- maps, pictures of cities and topography, a bit of history, have added greatly to my read. But one doesn't always have time for that.

Another approach I sometimes use is to read a cluster of three or four novels about the same area -- not necessarily real close together, but even over years. Slowly, a better composite picture often emerges. (Do know Nehru wrote a history that is essentially a series of letters to his daughter while he was in prison. It is a real tome, but if your library has a copy, you may enjoy picking and reading some of them.)


Marcy Lily wrote: "Novels like Midnight's Children can be a pleasant way to get a grasp on an area or history with which one is unfamiliar. Of course, if the writer is good (as Rushdie is), one is probably going to ..."


Great message, Lily!


Lily Marcy wrote: "..." Thank you, Marcy.


Jeanne I read this book originally without knowing the history and enjoyed it mightily. It was what made me go back and read up on Partition and sent me off on a whirlwind of reading Indian fiction. If you would like your history handed to you in a rather nice fictional narrative, I highly recommend reading Nayantara Sahgal's Rich Like Us.


Marcy Thank you, Jeanne! I will order the book now.


Sara I read the book without knowing the history and thoroughly enjoyed it. It leaves you with a good historical 'feel' rather than a factual view. It really depends on whether or not you enjoy reading historical information. If you don't, reading the book on its own should be fine. If you do, then researching the history before or after (or at the same time) should be fine too. Enjoy.


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