Search
×

Sign up

Use your Facebook account for quick registration

OR

Create a Shvoong account from scratch

Already a Member? Sign In!
×

Sign In

Sign in using your Facebook account

OR

Not a Member? Sign up!
×

Sign up

Use your Facebook account for quick registration

OR

Sign In

Sign in using your Facebook account

Shvoong Home>Books>How To & Self Help>MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN Review

MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN

Book Review   by:Shail_India     Original Author: Salman Rushdie
ª
 
IT is impossible to resist a novel that contains the sentence 'My sister the Brass Monkey developed the curious habit of setting fire to shoes.' Or one that will pause to observe, as it considers an unhappy India, 'Sacred cows eat anything.' According to 'Midnight's Children,' guilt is a fog, optimism is a disease, freedom is a myth, fried spiders cure blindness and 'Gandhi will die at the wrong time.' Nevertheless, Salman Rushdie chortles. We have an epic in our laps. The obvious comparisons are to Gunter Grass in 'The Tin Drum' and to Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 'One Hundred Years of Solitude.' I am happy to oblige the obvious. Like Grass and Garcia Marquez, Mr. Rushdie gives us history, politics, myth, food, magic, wit and dung. He adds, in no particular order, a blind art lover, a poet who is verbless and impotent, some vultures and cobras, a peep show and many clocks, telepathy and the nose as a genital organ. His children of midnight were born on Aug. 15, 1947, at the stroke of independence for India. Saleem Sinai tells us, 'From the moment of my conception, it seems, I have been public property.' And why not? Didn't Nehru himself send a personal letter of congratulation? Won't Saleem himself be a 'mirror' of the new nation? 1,001 Gifted Children Of course, there are two new nations, whether they like it or not. One of them is Pakistan. And Saleem understands himself to be a Moslem. And when, at the age of 9, in a laundry hamper, he comes to appreciate his telepathic powers, he comes also to understand that there were 1,000 other babies born on that same stroke of midnight. Each has a secret resource which consorts with the occult. Notice: 1,001 gifted children; we have enough tales for Scheherazade. And those siblings, India and Pakistan, would murder in the crib.Fragmentation is the theme of the novel, from the sheet with the hole in it through which Saleem's grandfather is permitted to glimpse portions of the body of the woman he will marry, all the way to a dismembering of history. 'We are a nation of forgetters,' Saleem says, and he isn't even sure of his own father. He is reading aloud, like Scheherazade, his dreams, as if to impress a departed wig.
Mr. Rushdie isn't nice, although he is funny and vulgar. The world of 'Midnight's Children' is not at all genteel, as the world of Anita Desai tends to be. It is the shadow in Paul Scott's mirror or, perhaps, what E. M. Forster heard in the cave, with a lot of symbolic curry added - the clocks, the dreams, 'the ambiguity of snakes,' the moon and the silver spittoon, the fishermen and the clowns. He is asking: who broke us apart, and why must we die, fragmented, for a failed India? And 1,001 Plots Why failure? Mr. Rushdie plays many games; the reader needs to be a loyal modernist. 'Midnight's Children,' with its 1,001 plots, is an exercise in criticism. Saleem is at once Superman, Sindbad and Pinocchio, not to mention Buddha. Eating, he speaks of 'pickled chapters.' We are reminded that 'no audience is without its idiosyncracies of belief.' Unspoken words cause bloat. His ear, the woman Patma who must listen to him read aloud his autobiography, deserts him for a while, and he is unmoored. Of himself, he says:'I was a radio receiver, and could turn the volume down or up; I could select individual voices; I could even, by an effort of will, switch off my newly discovered ear.' The signals he is receiving are from the children of the midnight clock; they will die with the nation; they will burn like shoes. If I understand Mr. Rushdie, he is equally outraged by (1) the English imposition on India; (2) Indira Gandhi's 'emergency,' which did away with liberal democracy in Indiale, and laugh while clenching fists. I wish Mr. Rushdie's children, all of them orphans of history, would take over the world at dawn. This novel - exuberant, excessive, despairing -is special.GET THIS BOOK FREE.BUY SELL RENT BOOKS FROM THE LINK BELOW.
Published: January 19, 2008   
Please Rate this Review : 1 2 3 4 5
Translate Send Link Print
X

.