Compelling Magical Realism
Although this story is set in the very real history of India and Pakistan, I most enjoyed the fantasy aspects that drove the story onward.
The size of this volume is daunting. I would never have been able to pick up and plow through this book. To hear Gregory read it to me got me through it. It took me a few minutes to adjust my ear to his accent, but once I got it, he was easy to listen to. In following along with the book, my wife did find a couple reading errors, but only one changed the meaning of the sentence.
These were characters I enjoyed reading about, but would not want to associate with. They all seemed very foreign and eccentric to me.
Rushdie has written a marvelous story that keeps you going throughout the book. I knew nothing of the history that is the setting for this story, so that was interesting. As much as I enjoyed the fantasy throughout the book, I found his images of the wars a bit disturbing, which just shows what a powerful writer he is. The book is definitely worth the time, and now I look forward to seeing the movie.
I would - and do - wholeheartedly recommend it!
There are SOOOO many simply fabulous, unique, entertaining characters, but, as it is told from the perspective of Saleem, and he is funny, smart, clever, confused, curious and every other appealing adjective you can think of, he wins my deepest affection.
No, but you can bet I will now! He performs this book as if he were channeling it - as if he were creating it. His different voices are wonderful. I really can't say enough about how terrific he is, so I won't even try.
Again, Saleem. Though, again, the 'pages' are peopled with such rich, fleshy, funny, sad characters that one could easily compile a list.
I really cannot recommend this highly enough. It is a world to get lost in - a world that often feels more real than the real world. I had heard so much about Rushdie's masterful writing, but I could not have imagined just how worthy he is of that praise. This book will last forever and I know I will listen again and again. Don't pass it up!
This man is one of the best narrators I've heard. He has a good dramatic voice and an understanding of English AND the Indian "varieties." His portrayal of women is as good as that of men, and he gave the different characters their own distinct voices.
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.
Tell us about yourself! I am a French woman and live in Paris. I love to read - I read almost EVERYTHING! I like also to speak English
Midnight’s Children – A Book Review
It is really challenging for me to review and sum up this massive, multi-layered, multi-dimensional book. I would like to say also that this is the most complex book that I have read in the few past years. Was it a great book? The answer is “YES”! Would I read another book from the same author? “YES”.
The plot revolves around Saleem Sinai’s birth and life. Saleem, the narrator and protagonist of the novel, is born on the stroke of midnight at the exact moment when India achieved Independence. This accident of birth gives him (and other children born during that magical midnight hour), unique, special gifts. Saleem’s gift is his “nose” that allowed him at first to go into people’s heads and know what they are thinking. He is also able to telepathically communicate with the other midnight children forming a kind of “ham” radio link of sorts with the rest of the children. Now after an eventful life, he is breaking into pieces, literally falling apart, and he wants to narrate his story to his lover before he dies. His identity, however, is switched at birth. As a result, he is raised by a prosperous family in Bombay, while his counterpart and future rival, Shiva, is raised in poverty.
The book is about Saleem, but it is also about India because for some magical, inexplicable reasons, Saleem and India destiny are intertwined with each other. The book opens up with Saleem’s grand parents in Kashimir, and then his parents and finally Saleenm and other midnight’s children.
I won’t say too much because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but keep in mind that there are layers upon layers of fantasy/historical dates and moments etc.
Reading this book was like watching both a fantasy movie combined with an historical movie. I really loved it. It was hard to start off the book and get into that but after the first 200 pages I started to enjoy it and therefore was unable to put it down. There are so many characters walking in and out of the story. The book is overly detailed you might get lost, but no worries about each small detail just keep going and at the end you’ll see everything will fall into place and be clear in your mind. This is definitely a book I highly recommend for those of you who likes both fantasy/historic.
Everything!!!!!!He makes it the characters sound real
When Saleem's parent find out that Saleem is not theit biological son. I felt so sorry for the mother.
I couldn't quite shake the idea, as I listened, that Salman Rushdie worked with an open copy of The Tin Drum by his side. But where Tin Drum felt to me like rich and moving reading experience, Midnight's Children felt clownish and empty. Reading it was like listening to the author shout LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME for hundreds of pages...and then it was over. I can fully admit the writing itself is masterful, but I found myself wondering with almost every sentence: How can great writing be so empty of purpose and meaning? And also: How can such a skilled writer make the topic of Indian independence, and the resulting partition of India, such a dull bludgeon of a reading experience?
Let me say more about this nagging Tin Drum echo that I heard throughout Midnight's Children--and why Midnight's children could mimic, but totally fail to capture the mastery of Tin Drum. Each book has countless minor characters who appear, play their part, and go away again. But in Tin Drum the characters are deeply felt, no matter how unrealistically portrayed, and in Midnight's Children the characters feel like windup toys. I think of Sigismund Markus in Tin Drum, a very minor character, the Jewish shopkeeper who commits suicide during Kristalnacht, versus Ilse Luben, who drowns herself in a lake before she makes any impression on the reader whatsoever, or Tai, a boatman who takes up many pages of narrative and who suffers an equally meaningless death. The death of Sigismund still moves me when I think about it, and the deaths of Ilse and Tai left nothing more than a great, boring, ho-hum, glad-they-are-gone-so-we-can-get-on-with-the-story feeling. Worse is the death of Vanita in childbirth--again my only feeling was that I had none.
Then I tried to frame the book as post-modern so of course it would use distancing effects as a way to call attention to its own fictions...but again the book compares so poorly with other postmodern novels, like those of Nabokov or Barthelme, which manage to use the same distancing effects to somehow bring a reader closer to all the beauty and tragedy of the human condition. This book in contrast just distances the reader.
So I'm left with a great wonderment that this is the book that wins the Booker of Bookers. The other book that Midnight's Children compares poorly to is A Passage to India by E.M. Forster--each book has a Dr. Aziz who is central to the story, with Rushdie's Aziz comparing very poorly to Forster's in any sort of valuation I can imagine for fiction.
I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
I was not familiar with Salman Rushdie's work. I leaped to the conclusion that Midnight's Children would be a dark, serious book because of the title of Rushdie's Satanic Verses and his being the target of a death threat. Was I surprised when I started listening to this imaginative, funny, whimsical book!
The narrator is amazing. I know some reviewers have complained that his pronunciation of certain words isn't correct, but I wouldn't know if it is or isn't. All I can say is that he is an amazing actor. He nails the accents, uses different intonations for various characters' voices, and enhances my comprehension and enjoyment immeasurably. I'm having a great time with Midnight's Children.
I was once charmed by the lilting narratives of Salman Rushdie???s "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" read out loud to me with background music by a rather talented boyfriend. It is not among Rushdie???s more famous works, so it???s surprising that, given how much I loved that other work, it???s taken me this long to get to another.
And again I am charmed. And overwhelmed. Charmed by the language and rhythm of "Midnight???s Children", by the vastness of the story, of the magical realism which I normally dislike. Overwhelmed by the hugeness of it all, the multiple stories, some historical, some so fantastical that they make "One Hundred Years of Solitude" look like non-fiction. I???ve just finished it and already can???t remember parts of it because my brain simply won???t hold it all.
"Midnight???s Children" is predominantly the biography of Saleem Sinai, born in the first minute of India???s independence from Britain. The story traces his life and simultaneously that of the new India through optimism and growth, partition and war, and emergency and corruption. Coincidence builds on coincidence until the stories begin to spiral upwards to stretch plausibility and then, rather than losing control, culminate in a sunburst of magical fantasy in which Saleem disappears from being entirely at one point. While the story winds in at the end, the language keeps rushing towards the final page leaving you at the conclusion ever so slightly out of breath. It will take you a moment to realize that you are actually sitting still.
I am not usually a fan of magical realism such as the aforementioned "One Hundred Years of Solitude". Maybe this works for me here because I expect India to be a place of bright, outlandishness. (That extraordinary lotus pink is, after all, the navy blue of India.) It is a place so distant to me that it???s easier for me to suspend belief perhaps. But it???s also Rushdie???s ability to make words dance and to mesmerize sentences like a snake charmer.
Winner of both the Booker Prize and the Booker-of-Bookers, it is considered to be one of the best books of the 20th century. Rushdie certainly deserves all this high praise: It???s a great work and he manages to sustain it over thousands of pages. I don???t know that I consider it the best book ever, and I confess it could have been a smidge shorter: There are a few points when you wish he would linger less. Still, absolutely worth the time and effort.
Lyndham Gregory is amazing here giving perfect pace to the words and handling dozens of different characters and voices. A slight weakness on the females, but not especially noticeable. I???ll be looking for other work of his.