I cannot lie, I found this an extremely difficult book to get into. It took me three attempts before I finally managed to read it all the way through. But I did, and I am glad that I persevered.
Salman Rushdie sets out to tell the tale of all the children born in the hour around the particular midnight that marks the India’s break away from British colonialism unto its independence. The children born in this midnight hour each grow up with a unique magical power, but what makes them even more significant is that their personal histories seem to marry with the history of the new developing India.
The story of the multitude of remarkable children is followed through the life of one of midnight’s most extraordinary children. Saleem Sinai was born on the stroke of midnight, thus marking him as one of the most intimately connected with the history of his country. Switched at birth Saleem is rescued from a life of poverty and grows up instead with a family who initially are blissfully unaware. The novel starts prior to his birth, establishing the roots of aforementioned family who are an unusual and somewhat eccentric clan. Saleem’s childhood is then described, and alongside the usual antics of childhood anecdotes Saleem discovers his telepathic power. This part of the text really interested me, because alongside Saleem’s realisation that himself and the other Midnight’s Children are potentially incredibly important are his struggles to deal with growing up wielding this remarkable talent.
Overall the novel aims to encapsulate the new spirit of India, as embodied by the myriad of children born in the midnight hour who have to forge their way through life with the potential for incredible greatness as well as destruction. Rushdie narrates this through a network of characters whose stories interweave and blend together in a way which mimics the blending of individual histories with the nations development as a whole. However impressive this feat might be, the narrator – Saleem Sinai is an easily distracted character who I sometimes found laborious. As much of an atrocity as it may be, I found myself skim reading pages of this book because I was struggling to connect with what was being described.
The truth is, I struggled to read this book and now I am struggling to write a review; I don’t know if I really enjoyed the text, or if it was just too much for me to take in. I would really like to hear your opinions on this, did any of you struggle reading it? Equally if you are a massive Rushdie fan please speak up! I have The Satanic Verses on my Kindle but I am not particularly keen to begin it now!!