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Showing 1-10 of 186 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 433 reviews
on May 11, 2015
The Satanic Verses is arguably Rushdie's most famous book, perhaps because it was the one that landed a fatwa on his head, but this one is my favorite. Every, single, word, is delicious. As a warning, my mother, who is my best reader friend, found his style too florid. I, however, could soak in it until my fingers get pruny, and never get tired. If you like sagas, sarcasm, fated coincidences, and utterly beautiful, imaginative, lustrous writing, read this right away in case you get hit by a bus tomorrow. One of my top favorite books of all time.
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on June 26, 2016
I found the first book of Midnight's Children to be a very interesting and engaging read. My opinion is somewhat limited to the first portion of this story; however, I can say that if you are considering this story as a topic of study, do note its use of magical realism. I found the symbolism used to be very enlightening with regard to the writer's purpose in utilizing the genre of magical realism, as it can serve as a means of delivering a message expanding beyond cultural barriers. I found it to be a fairly accessible work, only requiring a basic knowledge of Indian history and maybe some understanding of the prominent Abrahamic religions to best comprehend some of its symbols and the events Rushdie frequently references.
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on July 13, 2014
I could not get through this book! It came highly recommended, I really wanted to love this book, and did enjoy 1st chapters.
Then I bogged down, and down. The writing became turgid, the tale endless. One of my favorite books " A Suitable Boy ", deals with the same period , at much the same length; the difference for me was I cared deeply for the characters in Boy, had no connection to the Children. Will go back and give another try, at some point, if I live long enough.
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on August 25, 2015
If this is your first time reading a Salman Rushdie book it's definitely a struggle. He will jump right into things and the "magical" aspect of magical realism will confuse you even more. He may jump through time, expect you to know historical contexts, and throw in a significant amount of symbolism. A simpler book book in the magical realism genre would be a better first step. Rushdie's The Satanic Verses is a good read and easier to follow.

That said, once you start appreciating his work, it's easy to see why this is one of the best books ever written. The author's prose makes you want to put the book down after a paragraph as each sentence seems to dance to the story he tells.
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on September 2, 2015
Although Midnight’s Children is proclaimed as Rushdie’s masterpiece, I did not enjoy it as much as I did Shalimar the Clown. It’s epic in its scale and ambition. There is so much here it may be difficult for some readers (myself included) to digest it all. There are a staggering number of minor characters, all realized with Rushdie’s customary skill. There are many passages of brilliance, wit, and wisdom. But these multitudinous characters slither in and out of the narrative making it difficult at times to follow, particularly considering that a novel of this length and complexity does not lend itself to a reading of one, or even just a few sittings. It is in the form of a three-volume “confession” by the narrator, Saleem Sinai, who is born at the exact midnight moment of India’s birth as a nation (hence the novel’s title), to his consort and fiancé, Padma. To add to the difficulties many of the characters have multiple names.

Rushdie employs some literary devices that detracted from my enjoyment of the novel. At times it almost seemed as if he was indulging in technique for technique’s sake. One device is repetition. For instance, there’s constant thematic repetition of “knees and nose, nose and knees”, Saleem being the nose and his arch-enemy and rival, Shiva, being the knees. After a while my response was I get it, their fates are intertwined, but I don’t get why I need to read this formula yet again (maybe I don’t get it? I’m not even quite sure why the formula couldn’t be reversed. Are knees aggressive and the nose sensuous? A lot of hammering on one nail.) Another is Rushdie’s use of obscure vocabulary without any clear purpose that I can understand (even when I understand the words without looking them up). For example the words apocrine and eccrine keep popping up in the narrative without any clear reference (at least to me).

Another problem I had, particularly with Volume 3 (spoiler alert – don’t read further if you want to remain in suspense), is where we learn of the identity of “the Widow”, who is the villain of the piece. It’s Indira Gandhi. The anti-Gandhi theme introduced here seems a bit overheated. Although Indira Gandhi did do some bad things, particularly the suspension of democracy during the “Emergency” of 1975-77, which is the background for a significant part of Volume 3, they seem pretty small beer when compared with the great historical crimes of the twentieth century. In fact she seems not obviously better or worse than many of the Prime Ministers India has experienced before and afterwards. So the tone of outrage and focus on her as the villainous “Widow”, while it may have been understandable from Rushdie’s perspective at the time Midnight’s Children was completed (1979), seems rather dated.

All that said it would be unfair not to note that there are many passages in Midnight’s Children of great beauty and wisdom. Rushdie is unparalleled in capturing the sweep of life in India and Pakistan (and Bangladesh) and his genius for this is at its most expressive in this novel. He is also a writer of great learning and knowledge of what he writes -- knowledge which is fully on display here (in a good sense). The Bombay of which he writes is the Bombay of his own childhood; he himself was born in 1947, the year of India’s independence, the same as Saleem, the “hero” of the piece. Along the way, he gives us all sectors of Indian society, from the wealthy and privileged to the underclasses, and he does it with a true novelist’s eye (and nose!) for the telling detail and without editorializing. He succeeds in interweaving the private incidents in the lives of the characters he has created with historical events of the period: from the early part of the twentieth century to the late 70s, when the book was completed. It’s just a shame that because of their sheer number we don’t get to know some of them better. But maybe that’s inherent in Rushdie’s method; he himself has acknowledged his debt to Charles Dickens, and I guess one should no more expect to probe the depths of Nussie the Duck’s or Parvati-the-Witch’s psyches any more than those of Mr. Micawber or “Barkis is willing”.
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on March 13, 2016
Brillantly concieved and masterfully written, Midnight's Children is one of the great novels of the Twentieth Century. Written in the magical realism genre, the novel tells a mythic tale of the struggle for the soul of modern India. Set across the years 1916-1978, the story spans 31 years before and after the narrator's birth at midnight on 15 August 1947, Indian Independence Day. The narrator is one of five hundred and eighty one children born in the country at that day and hour. Each of these children is the personification of a mythic, religious, cultural, economic, or social aspect of India at that moment. Each is imbued with a magical gift. The narrator's gift is the ability to telepathically communicate with all the others. He founds the Midnight's Children Conference and...

Explictly, the story is about the narrator's life and those of his family and friends. Set against the backdrop of the history of the Indian Subcontenent in years mentioned above, the story employs historical events as well as the rich details and diversity of Indian culture to shape a fascinating story.

A novel to be savored. Highly recommended as is the excellent Audible Audiobook.
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on January 10, 2012
Throughout Rushdie's novel the plot is complex and the character's conflicts rapidly producing. Rushdie displays an amazing talent for writing in this way. The numerous subplots told by Saleem Sinai, the narrator, form an overall character that is relatable with the reader. At times it even seems as if the narrator is speaking directly to the reader by describing his own life and mistakes as simply as if in a one on one conversation. It takes a true master to write this way without producing the impression that the narrator is pointing a finger in the readers face, accusingly or all-knowingly. Rushdie's style of writing is what, personally, kept me reading. Although the beginning of the book more of resembles a family tree and history book, the information is needed in the long run. After reading through "Book One" of Rushdie's novel, the book became immensely more interesting. The plot thickened. Tragedy started to befall the world once filled with magical realism. The wonderful Midnight Child blessing of powers is shown in a new light. The reader in "Book Two" and "Book Three" starts to feel the pressure that Saleem feels, as well as even some of the pain. (If the reader decides to commit to the book completely.) All in all, I loved the book. The writing style was fantastic, the characters were relatable, and the plot was complex enough to challenge my own skills. Yes, the book is difficult, but the effort put into reading it is worth every page. However, for any future readers I have some advice: 1) Keep a family tree of the character's relations to each other during "Book One". The tree would help when Saleem makes allusions to his past to explain a certain point or his own personal reaction to an event. 2) Brush up on the Indian Independence and the British-Colonial Rule. Islam and Hinduism knowledge would aid the reader too, but isn't as in demand as the ruling classes and how they stand in the terms of control over their freedom and way of life. Finally--3) Read the book while sitting in a favorite spot. The book's plot is too complex for reading on the bus or a few pages every few days. The reader needs to be totally invested in the book and be willing to put in the time.
For all of Rushdie's future readers, enjoy the novel!
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on January 7, 2017
This is one of the most interesting books I have ever read. It walks the line between fantasy and reality in a genre called "magical realism" that is in the same vein as 1001 Arabian Nights and other fantastic stories. You will either love it or hate it. It's not a casual read that can be scanned: it's literature. You will remember this book forever, but you may have to read it several times to recall every incident in the protagonist's life. It is written like a biography...but so many incidents are fantastical, that deep in your heart, you know it can't be. It's full of the sights and sounds of India, where nothing, it seems, is ordinary to Westerners.
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on March 19, 2016
I found the descriptions of India and Pakistan colorful and rich in texture but the story was too disjointed and fantastical for me to truly enjoy. I found that I didn't really care for or about any of the characters.
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on June 1, 2013
Having red the "Satanic Verses" a few years ago I definitely waited too long to pick up "The Midnigt's Children". For anybody who can appreciate the literature and prefers a gourmet meal to chicken fried steak- stop reading reviews and start this book right now- it is a masterpiece.

BTW - to those who give it three stars or fewer- I can only hope that they write something better and show us what a good novel should be- forgive my sarcasm.

Initially the book may not be the easiest too read, as although the story is told mostly in chronological manner, it is interwoven with obscure at the time glimpses of the future. In Rushdie's world everything is connected, no thing is too small or inconsequential. Ideas, objects and small events initially loosely connected shape Saleem's life. As the story develops everything starts coming together, making sense, no longer obscure. Therefore the book becomes easier and easier to read and even more engaging the further you get into it.

The reality and fantasy are tied together in this novel- typically for this author, fantasy serves to highlight and magnify the reality.

The life of the protagonist, Saleem Sinai is magically tied to the life of the nation as he is born in the exact moment when India is born as a nation independent from the British rule. In the same hour 1000 of other children possessing supernatural abilities are born in India.

Some say that the idea of magical children is not fully utilized by the author or perhaps even unnecessary, as the reality of the times is captivating enough. This is debatable, but in any case don't expect the magical children fighting villains, this is not Avengers or Fantastic 4. The extraordinary abilities of the children are more a curse and a source of misfortunes than they are a blessing as the world is not ready for them.

Superstition, backwardness of the adults, causes them to pass the suffering on the children. The adults "make children the vessels into which they pour their poisons" of unhappiness, prejudice and intolerance.
As the protagonist grows up, the insults from surrounding him adults and his own peers are replaced by much worse mayhem unleashed on him and the whole nation by the politicians and tyrants.

As such the broken life and body of the midnight's child becomes a mirror of what happens to the fractured nation, divided by languages, religions and political ambitions. In this aspect the novel is a powerful accusation and the author takes no prisoners, historical figures even the reverend ones come under the fire of his literary weapons.
Even though the optimism of the people is shown as a disease and completely unjustified the author leaves room for a sliver of hope- symbolized by the little Aadam.

The use of visions, prophecies, colors, objects loaded with meanings, historical events and psychological insights along with rich and almost poetic prose create a book that is full of impact and should not be passed.
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