Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Midnight’s Children’ is a famous novel, which fetched him the Booker Prize in 1981. The story has been set in the backdrop of the independence of India and is a magical realism.
The story has been depicted by Saleem Sinai, the central character of the plot. The book begins from a pre-independent India with events leading up to India's Independence and proceeds ahead. The story revolves around Saleem, who takes birth right at the stroke of midnight, August 15, 1947 when India had achieved Independence.
The boy enjoys certain magical supremacy like telepathic powers through which he could contact all the other boys who had also taken birth within 12 to 1 P.M. of 15th August 1947. As all these children are born in the midnight and the plot is about them with Saleem being the protagonist, the name of the novel is ‘Midnight’s children’.
Through Saleem’s depiction to his girlfriend, the novel pass through the Independence struggle, to Nehru’s early buoyant rule, the wars with China and Pakistan, the creation of Bangladesh and the Emergency declared by Indira Gandhi.
Here also Rushdie retains his typical style of narration. It starts off slow and then several layers of fantasy are put one after the other until leading the reader to an anxious state. Right through the novel one will find that so many characters walking in and out of the story.
The story is all about the expectations and dreams of a child, (who can also be compared with the nation), his gradual growth and the ultimate disappointments.
‘Midnight’s Children’ has earned mixed reaction from the readers. When some of them opine that the novel no way deserves to win a Booker award, the regular Rushdie readers seem quiet contented.
Unmistakably, this book is not meant for someone who has insufficient knowledge of Indian history in the last 100 years. A reader of that group is definitely going to miss the enjoyment of many casual sentences or he would think that these were fantasies.
More or less, the theme of the book is identical with the Hollywood Film ‘Forest Gump’ but set in the background of a 70 year back undivided India.
‘The Midnight’s Children’ was awarded the 1981 Booker Prize, the English Speaking Union Literary Award, and the James Tait Prize. It also was granted the ‘Best of the Booker’ prize twice, in 1993 and 2008.
The novel was adapted for the stage by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2003. ‘The Fire’ famed Film Director Deepa Mehta is in the process of making a film of ‘The midnight’s Children’.
In our rating we would like to award four stars out of five to ‘The Midnight’s Children’.