I did not give the story three stars because I didn't enjoy it. I gave it three stars because I would need to be a genius, and probably an Indian Historian, to be able to understand it all.
I did like the book though, and for many reasons. The most important being that Salman Rushdie can turn words inside out and upside down and form them into something beautiful that you've never seen before. This book made me feel like what I imagine it would feel like to be in India. The smells, the traffic , the poor people hanging onto buses and trains. He doesn't make things picturesque. He makes things real. Not only the good, but the bad as well. The narrator of the story, Saleem Sinai, doesn't hold back from telling us how things really are. He tells us about his snot, accidentally seeing his mother's woohoo, fighting on the wrong side of things and falling in love with his sister. He is the kind of narrator that most of us are. He forgets things, backtracks, skips ahead, gets muddled. But through it all you learn about his whole family and history, and how the history of India is a part of everything. My favorite character is the grandmother, Reverend Mother. She is absurd, and yet, somehow quite likable. Every time she said "what's his name" it made me smile.
I found Midnight's Children easier to understand than The Satanic Verses. Even though it doesn't flow in chronological order, and the story is often interrupted by Padma, it is not as fantastical or as dreamlike as SV. But there are some similar themes in both books. Rushdie seems to be fond of the good/evil, God/Satan dynamic. Also, reality and non-reality play an equal part.
If you like books that push you, that expand you, that make you question things and look at the world in new ways, then you will like this book. It's not easy, but it is worth it.
The reader overplayed it. I think he was trying to add to the humor in the story and in so doing, killed the funny. Subtlety is a key in these performances. I wish they would have had Simon Vance do it, or Simon Prebble or .... well anyway.
The story itself is funny and touching and provocatve. Historical fiction at its best, telling the story of the times with a wide vision, and at the same time not loosing the thred of a human, personal story. And of course, there's a bit of magic, a bit of destiny... good stuff. I would download it again if they released another performance. Maybe they will get Grimus out soon? I hope.
The story reminded me of the "magic realism" of One Hundred Years of Solitude. If you enjoy that type of writing, you will enjoy this. The book takes place in India. The main character's life parallel's India's growth as an independent nation, including struggles with Pakistan. There were parts of the book that were fast-paced and extremely engaging, but I found there were also parts that my attention lagged during. I felt that was due to the book itself, not to the narrator.
Listening to books is an unforgettable experience, especially the books one loves. "Midnight's Children" is one of my favorites, and continues to be in audio form as well. Lyndam Gregory does a beautiful rendition of Midnight's Children. He gives each character a unique voice that makes them come alive. As the listener, you can see the characters in your mind. Gregory has the ability to evoke the essence of each character. Most importantly, he delivers the high drama of Rushdie's book. But... the only thing that was a bit of a put-off was the pronunciations of the names of the characters. Gregory does an excellent job with various kinds of Indian accents - it is obvious that he has really worked at it. However, he is not quite able to pronounce names, i.e., the proper nouns. Every time he says "Parvati" it sounds like "poverty", and "Nizam" always comes out as "Nazim", and so on. I would still highly recommend this audio book - it is a wonderful companion on a long drive.
Since I'm certain that Rushdie is an amazing author, I will suppose that my taste is what is at fault here. It was tedious, random, had many difficult to remember names of characters and places, and was not unlike listening to a friend's demented grandfather ramble on (and on and on) about places and events you've never heard of.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
Salman Rushdie sure isn't afraid to take on large themes in his books. The Satanic Verses dealt with the whole Anglo-Indian immigrant experience. Midnight's Children is a broadly sprawling picaresque account of the first 30 years of India's post-Empire independence. There is plenty of humor except when Rushdie pauses to be serious or poignant or sometimes even tragic. There is also a good deal of history thrown in for context, of which I daresay the average American is largely ignorant. It must have seemed, in 1977, as though India's brief flirtation with democracy was dangerously close to collapse.
The problem with writing a book that way is that it's hard to feel especially close to any of his characters. There is a kind of distance between them and the reader held apart by the witty repartee of the author. I suppose that's why it feels especially touching when that distance is relaxed and characters are allowed to be vulnerable emotionally. Which isn't to say that his characters are not interesting or vivid in their own way. The upside of writing the book that way is that it keeps it entertaining even through the parts that, upon reflection, had to have been emotionally traumatic.
I waited in vain for the sentence that cost Rushdie a defamation suit from Indira Gandhi, but that sentence has been removed. Rushdie's introduction to this anniversary edition talks about the suit, and the fascinating story of how the book came to be written and the very entertaining rejection notices this Booker Prize-winning book received. It is a shame Rushdie's career has been overshadowed by the controversy over Satanic Verses. I do not think he gets enough credit for being the wonderfully funny, witty, and entertaining author that he is.
Lyndam Gregory does a fantastic job of catching the various Indian accents and keeping all the characters differentiated.
This is a fabulous, ambitious book, magnificently written. The narration is also well-done, if sometimes a little bit too flamboyant; because the story is so thick and complex, a more measured narration may have been better, but the narrator has done a fabulous job of highlighting Rushdie's fantastic prose, and bringing the characters to life by his performance. This is the magic of a good audiobook: the marriage of a fine performance and first-rate prose. The only drawback to this recording is that the recorded chapter breaks do not mirror the actual book chapters. So, it makes it difficult to switch back and forth from the written text and the audiobook, which some readers like to do.
The writing style is superb. The delivery is superb. The only problem is in the "plot"; a weird mixture of history and fantasy. Also, it goes on for too long in a number of places. But it is a real pleasure to listen to, and I could not imagine a better verbal rendition of it.
An academic who listens to novels on runs and commutes to campus.
Though Midnight's Children won the Booker of Bookers, this text is less engaging and, I believe, less successful than The Satanic Verses. While MC tells the story of one particularly magical child, Saleem Sinai, who is writing this story for the purpose of telling his young child, who perhaps retains some magical qualities of his parents. The story is also the narrative of India and Pakistan, and the tensions that have existed since their twin births. While the story of Saleem Sinai takes many turns, the narrative takes its most significant turn when Rushdie unleashes a scathing critique of Indiria Ghandi's leadership during "The Emergency." Rushdie, as he explains in the Preface, was sued for libel over one particular sentence that Ghandi found offensive, regarding her relationship with her son and her role in her husband's demise. While Rushdie removed the offending sentence, this incident proves that his takedown of Ghandi was, in fact, accurate over her power grab. This book demonstrates the necessity of literature, both in how narrative allows for someone to make sense of events and the power of literature as social critique. For anyone interested in serious literature, this book should be engaged with for both the pleasure of literature and the power of literature.
I have only listened to one other Rushdie book (Shalimar the Clown - Fantastic!) so I was looking forward to hearing more from this esteemed author. It helps to know that this is Rushdie's first major work and I got the sense that it was intended to trumpet to the world that a new literary lion had stepped onto the world stage. Like a graduate student trying too hard to impress a mentor, however, Rushdie seemed to be trying too hard to impress the reader. For a listener - as opposed to a reader - this can be especially challenging since each paragraph was so dense with information, plot development, and literary flourishes that it was hard to follow it all. Similarly, he introduced (and then discarded) so many characters - and goes back and forth from the past to the present - that I had a hard time putting it down and then remembering (or figuring out) what was going on when I resumed listening (especially if more than a day had lapsed). So - over time I lost interest and ultimately didn't finish the book. Maybe one day I will return to it.
I want to be clear, however, this is a beautifully written book and no one tells such intricate, multi-generational stories that help shed so much light on the India/Pakistan history - and the sorrow associated with the partition of India.
The narration was a plus - an outstanding job.