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Saleem Sinai was born at midnight, the midnight of India's independence, and found himself mysteriously 'handcuffed to history' by the coincidence. He is one of 1,001 children born at the midnight hour, each of them endowed with an extraordinary talent - and whose privilege and curse it is to be both master and victims of their times. Through Saleem's gifts - inner ear and wildly sensitive sense of smell - we are drawn into a fascinating family saga set against the vast, colourful background of the India of the 20th century.
WINNER The Best of the Booker Prize, 2008.
Shortlisted for The Best of The Booker Prize, 2008.
Runner-up for The BBC Big Read Top 100 2003.
Shortlisted for BBC Big Read Top 100 2003.
Winner of Booker of Bookers 1993.
Winner of Booker Prize for Fiction 1981.
Winner of James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Fiction) 1981.
Salman Rushdie is the author of eight novels, one collection of short stories, and four works of non-fiction, and the co-editor of The Vintage Book of Indian Writing. In 1993 Midnight's Children was judged to be the 'Booker of Bookers', the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its first 25 years. The Moor's Last Sigh won the Whitbread Prize in 1995, and the European Union's Aristeion Prize for Literature in 1996. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres.
Kirkus Reviews UK
Winner of the 1981 Booker Prize and the 1993 'Booker of Bookers', this is the tale of Saleem Sinai and the other 1000 babies born in the 'magic' hour after Indian independence on 15 August 1947. Its brilliant style owes something to magic realism, but also to an acute awareness of Indian myth and history. In some senses, it is a comic allegory of the latter although it was sufficiently satirical about contemporary India - and the sterilizations ordered by Sanjay Gandhi, for example - for it to be banned there. It it is hard to understand the path of 20th-century writing without having read this book. (Kirkus UK)
Kirkus Reviews US
When Indian novelist Rushdie arrived with Grimus in 1979 we called him "an imagination to watch." And he'll be watched indeed once this bravura fiction starts circulating - a picaresque entertainment that's clearly inspired by close readings of the modern South American fabulists and, above all, Sterne's Tristram Shandy. Rushdie's own Tristram is named Saleem Sinai - and he is born at the stroke of midnight, August 15, 1947, making him exactly contemporary with the life of India-as-a-nation. In fact, Saleem and 580 other "midnight children" born at that moment grow up to find themselves equipped with powers of telepathic communication, foresight, and heightened individual sensoria: Saleem's particular gift is a "cucumber" of a nose with which he goes through life literally smelling change. The Sinai family, originally Kashmiri Moslems, migrate to Bombay, living in ex-colonial digs. And a switch at birth with a neighbor's baby seeds narrative trouble that flowers at different times later on in the book: opera buffa complications all the way. Saleem seems to be in the middle of all cataclysmic Indian events, too. He's present during language riots and a dinner-party coup in Pakistan (where his mother fled after a marital spat involving the revealed baby-switch). Because of his olfactory talent, he becomes a "man-dog" tracker for a Pakistani military unit during the debacle in Bangladesh. And, back in Bombay, Saleem is clapped into jail with the other "midnight children" by "the Widow" - Indira Gandhi - during the dictatorial Emergency. Rushdie swoops, all colors unfurled, all stops out, through and around his synchronic fable with great gusto and sentimental fizz. And though such a rodomontade would be shameless if made out of more familiar material, the sub-continental excessiveness (and the fascinating history lesson which is incidentally built in) keeps us loading and firing right along. Tour de force, in other words - and so, of course, a little exhausting; but, unlike other fantastical picaresques, this one is truly worth the effort. A big striped balloon of a book, often dizzying with talent. (Kirkus Reviews)