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Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children is an awe-inspiring novel of epic proportions. Rushdie tells the story of Saleem Sinai, born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the moment of India's independence. Saleem becomes linked to India; his life is inseperable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. What drew me to this book was (apart from its critical acclaim and place on Modern Library's Choices) but the promise of a magnificent story. Filled with magic and mysticism; Saleem and the 1,000 others born during the initial hour of India’s independence (Midnight’s Children) possess magical talents; the more potent the gift, the closer to midnight they were born. Saleem is telling his story to Padma, looking back on the past thirty years of his life (and of India’s history). As Rushdie writes in the introduction to the 25th anniversary edition, “Like all novels, Midnight’s Children is a product of its moment in history, touched and shaped by its time in ways that its author cannot wholly know.” Midnight's Children concerns itself with the character and history of India and Pakistan. It goes into detail about the struggles between different religions, classes, languages, and geographical regions. Out of the 13 books I've read so far this summer, Rushdie's novel has taken me the most time to read by a long shot. I don't think this is due to the difficulty of the story but the complexity of it. The novel is both old and contemporary; tradition is juxtaposed with modernity and both mythology and religion play large roles. It was a fantastic novel, to say the least. Fun fact: it's being made into a movie, premiering this fall. Rushdie helped with the screenplay, so the adaptation is bound to be good. I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes, with Saleem discussing Snakes and Ladders. Snakes are a motif throughout the novel, and here, Saleem is hinting at Shiva, the other boy born at midnight, destined to be his counterpart.
“All games have morals; and the game of Snakes and Ladders captures, as no other activity can hope to do, the eternal truth that for every ladder you climb, a snake is waiting just around the corner; and for every snake, a ladder will compensate. But it’s more than that; no mere carrot-and-stick affair; because implicit in the game is the un-changing twoness of things, the duality of up against down, good against evil; ... but I found, very early in my life, that the game lacked one crucial dimension, that of ambiguity—because, as events are about to show, it is also possible to slither down a ladder and climb to triumph on the venom of a snake...” 161
Rating: ★★★★★

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