This book won the Booker of Bookers, so when I saw it sitting on the shelf, it said, “I must be good, take me home!” After all, I’ve adored some other Booker winners.
Not this one.
Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight, August 15th, 1947, at the same moment that India becomes an independent nation. He knows that he must be special – he even receives a letter from the Prime Minister for such a fortuitious birth time. This book isn’t just about him, though, it is about several generations of his family and the history of his country, all of which makes it into a lengthy literary saga.
I didn’t like Saleem. He drove me crazy with his dodging of topics and endless diversions. I wasn’t interested in his relationship with Padma and I got completely fed up with his self-important attitude. I understand that his condition is reflected by India throughout the novel, but that didn’t mean I enjoyed reading about it just because it had literary value. His connection with the other midnight children was interesting, but once again his arrogance ruined it. He’s an unreliable narrator to an extent, but not in the way that I like, if that makes any sense at all. He’s just trying to make himself sound good. Maybe because he is, apparently, not very attractive.
India, as a country, was by far the most compelling character throughout the book. I loved reading about the different regions, about Bombay and Delhi, about how rapidly India was changing. I’d certainly recommend this book for insight into the culture and that is easily the best part of it. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Kashmir region for myself, now, after reading about it so many times.
So, in the end? I think Midnight’s Children was too literary for me. I can tell that I’d get more enjoyment out of it if I went through in a class and then had to write a paper on it to pick it apart. As I was going through, I actually picked out paper topics that would illuminate the subject matter better. I’m not quite crazy enough to go out and write a paper just now, though. If I ever have fewer TBRs waiting for me, I might pick it up again and see if I can catch some of the threads that I missed this time, but I don’t anticipate that happening for a long time. In the meantime, if you like literary texts or want a better picture of India, I would say buy this book on Amazon. If you’re just looking for a good story, I’d skip it.