Synopsis from B&N:
Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts.
This novel is at once a fascinating family saga and an astonishing evocation of a vast land and its people–a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy. Twenty-five years after its publication, Midnight’s Children stands apart as both an epochal work of fiction and a brilliant performance by one of the great literary voices of our time.
Well. I think this is a novel I would like to read as part of a class - there is so much going on, dealing with events in history I don't know about or understand, that I believe much of the book just flew right over my head.
That being said, it was certainly an interesting read. I've mentioned before that I struggle with books that use magical realism, and this was, again, a struggle in this novel. I don't know exactly why it's so difficult for me, but it always trips me up. This novel is chock full of it, pretty much from page one, so it made it slow going - I've been chipping away at it for the better part of 2 weeks.
I was initially concerned about the style - here's the first paragraph, so you understand what I mean.
“I was born in the city of Bombay… once upon a time. No, that won’t do, there’s no getting away from the date: I was born in Doctor Narlikar’s Nursing Home on August 15th 1947. And the time? The time matters, too. Well then: at night. No, it’s important to be more… On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clock-hands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came. Oh, spell it out, spell it out: at the precise instant of India’s arrival at independence, I tumbled forth into the world. There were gasps. And, outside the window, fireworks and crowds. A few seconds later, my father broke his big toe; but his accident was a mere trifle when set beside what had befallen me in that benighted moment, because thanks to the occult tyrannies of those blindly saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country. For the next three decades, there was to be no escape. Soothsayers had prophesied me, newspapers celebrated my arrival, politicos ratified my authenticity. I was left entirely without a say in the matter. I, Saleem Sinai, later variously called Snotnose, Stainface, Baldy, Sniffer, Budha and even Piece-of-the-Moon, had become heavily embroiled in Fate – at the best of times a dangerous sort of involvement. And I couldn’t even wipe my own nose at the time.”
It's very stream-of-consciousness, which can take some getting used to. Once I got some 100 pages into the novel, that didn't really bother me anymore, and Saleem is certainly a charming narrator. Again, there is just SO MUCH to this novel, that trying to figure out what I was missing started to make me lose the flow much of the time.
I'm not sure I can say I enjoyed the novel - I did find it interesting, and I'm glad I read it, but it was more of an experience than a joy.
Now I want to hear from the people that loved it - I know you're out there! What am I missing? I'd love to be enlightened!
Source: Franklin Avenue library