Midnight’s Children immediately reminds the reader of two other novels upon reading, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. These are two of the major novels of twentieth century literature and foundation works of the genre of magical realism. Midnight’s Children falls comfortably into the same category of importance as these novels.
As well as magical realism Midnight’s Children also encompasses several other literary modes such historical fiction and is considered an allegorical novel and a postcolonial novel. Despite the complexity of categorizing, the book itself is not difficult to read. The language and style which Rusdie employs provide an energy which powers the entire story.
The allegory is that of the events in India leading up to independence and what follows after. The narrator of the book is Saleem Sinai who was born at the moment India gained independence on August 15th 1947. He and other children born within the first hour of independence are in possession magical powers, which will be both a blessing and a curse. Events in Saleem’s life mirror the events of India, the nation born the same time as him. The connections of these events are so close that at times it may seem as if it is India following Saleem’s life instead of the other way around.
The book it does not just deal with Saleem’s life but how he came into being, so telling the story of his grandparent’s courtship and how his parents met. As such it is filled with characters all of whom command the spaces of the book they occupy. All of the Midnight’s Children with their powers are not detailed but remain memorable. India itself, with all its varied landscapes and lifestyles, forms a major part of the story.
The book deals with Indian events but this does not mean that every reader should have an encompassing knowledge of Indian history. The book was written in English by an Anglo-Indian author. There is no gap in translation or cultural divides that are too great for readers from any part of the world. Rushdie makes his allegories but does not demand that the story cannot progress without understanding of every reference. The novel can also work as a fantasy with superhero powers inserted; the writing is powerful enough to work on several levels.
.The book has remained a bestseller and is still in print today. It is in every sense of the term, popular, not just with academics but with the public. A book that has won such a large number of prizes can seen intimidating, in most cases for good reason. Readers of Midnight’s Children can have no such fear. The book transcends so many genres and is written with such wit and style that it is impossible not to enjoy.