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Midnight's Children is an epic book of magical realism, a poioumenon about Indiamarker's transition from British colonialism to independence. It was written by Salman Rushdie in 1981 and is considered an example of postcolonial literature. The story is expressed through various characters and is contexted by actual historical events as with historical fiction.

Midnight's Children won both the 1981 Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for the same year. It was awarded the "Booker of Bookers" Prize and the best all-time prize winners in 1993 and 2008 to celebrate the Booker Prize 25th and 40th anniversary. Midnight's Children is also the only Indian novel on Time's list of the 100 best English-language novels since its founding in 1923.

Plot

Midnight's Children is a loose allegory for events in India both before and, primarily, after the independence and partition of India, which took place at midnight on 15 August 1947. The protagonist and narrator of the story is Saleem Sinai, a telepath with an extraordinary nose. The novel is divided into three books.

Midnight's Children tells the story of the Sinai family and the earlier events leading up to India's Independence and Partition, connecting the two lines both literally and allegorically. The central protagonist, Saleem Sinai, is born at the exact moment that India becomes independent. He later discovers that all children born in Indiamarker between 12 AM and 1 AM on 15 August 1947, are imbued with special powers. Saleem thus attempts to use these powers to convene the eponymous children. The convention, or Midnight Children's Conference, is in many ways reflective of the issues India faced in its early statehood concerning the cultural, linguistic, religious, and political differences faced by such a vastly diverse nation. Saleem acts as a telepathic conduit, bringing hundreds of geographically disparate children into contact while also attempting to discover the meaning of their gifts. In particular, those children born closest to the stroke of midnight wield more powerful gifts than the others. Shiva of the Knees, Saleem's evil nemisis, and Parvati, called "Parvati-the-witch," are two of these children with notable gifts and roles in Saleem's story.

Meanwhile, Saleem must also contend with his personal trajectory. His family is active in this, as they begin a number of migrations and endure the numerous wars which plague the subcontinent. During this period he also suffers amnesia until he enters a quasi-mythological exile in the jungle of Sundarban, where he is re-endowed with his memory. In doing so, he reconnects with his childhood friends. Saleem later becomes involved with the Indira Gandhi-proclaimed Emergency and her son Sanjay's "cleansing" of the Jama Masjid slum. For a time Saleem is held as a political prisoner; these passages contain scathing criticisms of Indira Gandhi's overreach during the Emergency as well as what Rushdie seems to see as a personal lust for power bordering on godhood. The Emergency signals the end of the potency of the Midnight Children, and there is little left for Saleem to do but pick up the few pieces of his life he may still find and write the chronicle that encompasses both his personal history and that of his still-young nation; a chronicle written for his son, who, like his father, is both chained and supernaturally endowed by history.

Characters

Saleem Sinai is the protagonist and narrator; a telepath with an enormous and constantly dripping nose, who is born at the exact moment that India becomes independent. The novel has a multitude of named characters , see:-

Major themes

The technique of magical realism finds liberal expression throughout the novel and is crucial to constructing the parallel to the country's history. Nicholas Stewart in his essay, "Magic realism in relation to the post-colonial and Midnight's Children," argues that the "narrative framework of Midnight's Children consists of a tale – comprising his life story – which Saleem Sinai recounts orally to his wife-to-be Padma. This self-referential narrative (within a single paragraph Saleem refers to himself in the first person: 'And I, wishing upon myself the curse of Nadir Khan.' 'I tell you,' Saleem cried, 'it is true. ...') recalls indigenous Indian culture, particularly the similarly orally recounted in Arabian Nights. The events in Rushdie's text also parallel the magical nature of the narratives recounted in Arabian Nights (consider the attempt to electrocute Saleem at the latrine (p.353), or his journey in the 'basket of invisibility' (p.383))." He also notes that, "the narrative comprises and compresses Indian cultural history.'Once upon a time,' Saleem muses, 'there were Radha and Krishna, and Rama and Sita, and Laila and Majnun; also (because we are not unaffected by the West) Romeo and Juliet, and Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn," (259). Stewart (citing Hutcheon) suggests that Midnight's Children chronologically entwines characters from both India and the West, "with post-colonial Indian history to examine both the effect of these indigenous and non-indigenous cultures on the Indian mind and in the light of Indian independence."

Reception

Midnight’s Children was awarded the 1981 Booker Prize, the English Speaking Union Literary Award, and it was awarded the James Tait Prize. It also was awarded the Best Of The Booker prize twice, in 1993 and 2008 (this was an award given out by the Booker committee to celebrate the 25th and 40th anniversary of the award).

In 1984 Indira Gandhi brought an action against the book in the British courts, claiming to have been defamed by a single sentence in chapter 28, penultimate paragraph, in which her son Sanjay Gandhi is said to have had a hold over his mother by him accusing her of contributing to his father's death through her neglect. The case was settled out of court when Salman Rushdie agreed to remove the offending sentence.

Film, TV, or theatrical adaptations

In 2003 the novel was adapted for the stage by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

A forthcoming film adaptation, Midnight's Children, will be directed by Deepa Mehta with a screenplay to be written by Rushdie and Mehta during 2009 . Rushdie will also have a small role in the film as the Soothsayer, Ramram Seth.

Notes

  1. Midnight’s Children wins the Best of the Booker
  2. Time 100 Books - The Complete List
  3. Stewart, N. Magic realism as postcolonialist device in Midnight's Children
  4. This is reported Salman Rushdie himself in his introduction to the 2006 25th Anniversary special edition , Vintage books, dated 25 December , 2005 ISBN 9780099578512
  5. The Literary Encyclopedia: Midnight's Children
  6. Deepa Mehta makes film on Midnight's Children


References



External links




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