At The Stroke of Midnight

What can’t be cured must be endured…

And rightly so.  Because I was reading Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie) with a reading buddy, I couldn’t just stop, even if there were times when I wanted to, because Saleem, the novel’s gregarious narrator, had a way of beating around the bush.

So I persevered, and finished reading the novel in 10 days!  Not an easy feat, mind you.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, Midnight’s Children is not an easy read.  As the narrator struggles to tell his remarkable story before his bones crumbled inside his skin, he travels back and forth through time, recounting the lives of his ancestors and the incredible circumstances of his existence.

Saleem was born on the stoke of midnight, on August 15, 1947, the exact same time as India’s independence from its British colonizers.  Fate binds Saleem to India and to the other children born on the same day, at the exact same hour.

Midnight’s Children is the story of Saleem Sinai, and his extraordinary life; of his uncanny ability and connection with the other children born on the exact same day and time; and of his involvement in shaping India’s history, the significant events in his life mirroring or bringing about significant events in the country.

Midnight’s Children is a hugely complex novel, which reflects India’s rich and diverse culture.  It touches on the issues of colonization, politics, religious freedom, discrimination, social segregation, economics, independence, and truth, through the use of magical realism.

I have very mixed feelings about this book.  While reading it, there were times when I was engrossed in the narration, and times when I was bored with Saleem’s dragging storytelling.  It was funny, yet sad; plausible, yet unbelievable; easy, but difficult.

Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize in 1981, and was awarded the Booker of Bookers in 1993, so it is nothing less than a literary phenomenon, but in the end, I was quite disappointed.  Disappointed not in the book, but in myself, for not being able to understand it, and appreciate its beauty and complexities.

***

I’m only too glad that I read this with a reading buddy.  If I weren’t “forced” to read a prescribed number of pages everyday, I don’t think I would have ever gotten through the first few chapters of this book.  And even if I did get through it, I doubt I would have been able to finish it in 10 days.

All in all, it’s a good book to end the year, and I’m glad that I can finally cross it off my list.

(For more details, analysis, speculations, questions and rants, please see the group discussion at the Reading Buddy Journal:  Midnight’s Children.)

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2 thoughts on “At The Stroke of Midnight

    • LOL…would you believe that the time of my posting of that entry was purely coincidental?

      The post-it bookmarks are helpful in keeping track of the pages I need to read everyday. At least I know when it’s safe to stop for the day.

      Onwards to 2666! (And yes, my post-it tabs are all in place!).

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