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(03/29/2008) Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. New York. 1980. Random House. keywords: Literature India. 446 pages. Jacket design by Paul Bacon. 039451470.

The book that put Salman Rushdie on the map. A big rambling magical tale of the birth of both the Indian and the Pakistani nations.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This huge, ebullient, operatic, comic, serious - and important - novel establishes Salman Rushdie as a major new writer from India. It is a novel whose twin protagonists - Saleem Sinai, the indefatigable narrator, and modern India itself--we follow from the moment of their simultaneous birth through all the convulsions and comedies of their childhood, adolescence, and somewhat questionable maturity. Baby Saleem - greeted by fireworks displays and cheering crowds, celebrated in the press, welcomed by Prime Minister Nehru himself--grows up to learn quickly the ominous consequences of the coincidence of his birth: his every act is mirrored, magnified, in events that sway the course of national affairs; his life and health are inextricably bound to those of his nation/twin; his biography is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of independent India. And he is blessed with remarkable aptitudes. His uncanny sense of smell enables Saleem to sniff out troubles others fail to perceive - but never, of course, to distance himself from them. His extraordinary telepathic powers, first revealed to him accidentally in his mother's laundry hamper in his ninth year, link Saleem with his multitudinous siblings: the 1,000 other 'midnight's children' of India, all born in the initial hour of their country's independence, all fatefully endowed with unusual features and magical gifts. Telling his story, furiously recording it for posterity in a quiet corner of a Bombay pickle factory as he awaits his own imminent death, Saleem takes us first into the lives of his improbably eccentric forebears. He then plunges headlong into the fantastic events of his own life - sexual escapades, family quarrels, sicknesses-unto-death, mirade cures, incredible perils, miraculous escapes - a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs in which we see reflected modern India at its most impossible arid glorious. Funny, moving, explosively alive, MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN is at once a fascinating family saga and a wild, astonishing evocation of a vast and complicated land and its people--a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy, Indian style.

 

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