Sunday, May 24, 2009

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

Wow, just wow. This is easily the best book I've read this year. Rushdie never disappoints. When I read one of his books, I think, "Alleluia, how the angels sang, Alleluia, how it rang!" Opening a Rushdie book is like stepping into a raging stream; you have to trust to fate and let go and enjoy the ride.

Saleem Sinai is born on midnight on August 15, 1947, the exact moment when India becomes a free country. His life parallels the life of India. Along with Saleem, one thousand and one other children are born in the hour of midnight to one a.m. They are the convention of Midnight's Children, and Saleem is their mentor and guiding force. Their gifts and strengths are both a threat and a promise of India's young country's path to freedom.

Along the way we learn about Saleem's family and the milestones that make up his life. His sister, nicknamed Monkey, the witch he marries, his relatives and their life stories, his friends, his enemies; Rushdie writes of it all. Saleem believes that his life causes momentous events in the life of India and Pakistan. The entire book could be read as an allegory of independance, government control and the straining of people for independance.

The writing, as always in Rushdie's books, is glorious. Streams of words, torrents that rush over the reader and carry them along and somehow come together to pull disparate plotlines into resolution. This book is recommended for all readers; one of my favorites ever.

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