Title: Midnight's Children
Author: Salman Rushdie
Source: Turkish edition sent by Turkish publisher for review
Born at the stroke of midnight, at the precise moment of India's independence, Saleem Sinai is destined from birth to be special. For he is one of 1,001 children born in the midnight hour, children who all have special gifts, children with whom Saleem is telepathically linked.
But there has been a terrible mix up at birth, and Saleem’s life takes some unexpected twists and turns. As he grows up amidst a whirlwind of triumphs and disasters, Saleem must learn the ominous consequences of his gift, for the course of his life is inseparably linked to that of his motherland, and his every act is mirrored and magnified in the events that shape the newborn nation of India. It is a great gift, and a terrible burden.
Some thoughts that ran through my head as I was reading Midnight’s Children: Wasn’t Salman Rushdie in the Bridget Jones movie? He looked rather annoying in that movie, didn’t he? If he’s annoying, how come he’s so funny? When can I visit India? If I do go, will I have to chance to mingle with natives and experience something magical? Has Rushdie ever met Marquez? If I sleep after finishing this chapter, how many hours do I get? Should I ditch work and finish the book…?
I was totally mesmerized by this book even though I started it without any expectations at all. I was curious about Rushdie, but my heart was set on reading The Satanic Verses, which I couldn’t find, so I settled for Midnight’s Children. India has never been a country that interested me up until now. People I knew who did go to India always talked about it as a dirty, chaotic place, and due to popular culture references, it seemed to me a place for the wealthy to go to in order to escape from the real world. Reading Midnight’s Children did make me believe in the magic that land holds, waiting to blow one’s mind.
Rushdie’s India is full of weird but sweet people, old wives’ tales, events where the size of one’s nose has a lot to do with their faith. The main character Salim Sina is born on the night India declares its independence from Pakistan, and he becomes famous around the country just because of that. He starts to tell his story beginning with his grandmother and grandfather’s, which made me think “damn; this is going to take forever.” I thought it would take forever for him to get to the point. However, thanks to Rushdie’s funny, magical prose I didn’t even realize how much time had passed when I was 300-something pages in.
Midnight’s Children will make you meet a different India and make you believe magic is real.