Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Encyclopedia of Literature: McTeague to Nancy [Freeman] Mitford Biography

Midnight's Children

saleem novel rushdie india

a novel by Salman Rushdie, published in 1981 and winner of the Booker Prize. This highly innovative novel was the forerunner of a new genre of writing from India, other Asian countries, and Africa, combining the magic realism of Latin American novels with political comment, satire, and dissertations on contemporary history in the context of decolonization. It is narrated entirely in the voice of Saleem Sinai, one of the 1,001 gifted children born at midnight, 15 August 1947, the moment of India's formal declaration of its independence from Britain. Saleem's life reflects the vagaries and changes of the Indian political situation, and is intertwined with the fates of midnight's other children. Saleem, himself the changeling child of an Englishman and a street-singer, reflects the confused pluralism of contemporary South Asian society. As Rushdie himself had done, Saleem grows up in a Kashmiri Muslim family; born and brought up in Bombay, he moves to Karachi in the late 1950s. Both Bombay and Karachi are portrayed as microcosmic representations of postcolonial India and Pakistan—the latter, like Saleem, the changeling child of England and India—and allow Rushdie to satirize the political, social, and sexual scandals of the time. The latter part of the novel deals with the tumultuous events of the 1971 war and the creation of Bangladesh, and the controversial period of Mrs Gandhi's rule. Rushdie virtually erases the thin line between documentary realism, journalistic analysis, and fable. Elements of Hindu myth and Islamic legend are evident in the naming of the novel's characters. Padma, Saleem's semi-literate lover, is a personification of the Indian popular spirit and imagination. Saleem, himself the artist of compromise, deceit, and subterfuge, mirrors the failed hopes, ideals, and aspirations of a new generation expected to accelerate the radical process of decolonization.

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or