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Midnight's Children
Cover of Midnight's Children
Midnight's Children
A Novel
The iconic masterpiece of India that introduced the world to “a glittering novelist—one with startling imaginative and intellectual resources, a master of perpetual storytelling” (The New Yorker)

WINNER OF THE BEST OF THE BOOKERS • SOON TO BE A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES


Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time • The fortieth anniversary edition, featuring a new introduction by the author

Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts.
This novel is at once a fascinating family saga and an astonishing evocation of a vast land and its people–a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy. Forty years after its publication, Midnight’s Children stands apart as both an epochal work of fiction and a brilliant performance by one of the great literary voices of our time.
The iconic masterpiece of India that introduced the world to “a glittering novelist—one with startling imaginative and intellectual resources, a master of perpetual storytelling” (The New Yorker)

WINNER OF THE BEST OF THE BOOKERS • SOON TO BE A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES


Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time • The fortieth anniversary edition, featuring a new introduction by the author

Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts.
This novel is at once a fascinating family saga and an astonishing evocation of a vast land and its people–a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy. Forty years after its publication, Midnight’s Children stands apart as both an epochal work of fiction and a brilliant performance by one of the great literary voices of our time.
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Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    1120
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    7 - 9

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Excerpts-
  • From the book The Perforated Sheet
     
    I WAS BORN in the city of Bombay … once upon a time. No, that won’t do, there’s no getting away from the date: I was born in Doctor Narlikar’s Nursing Home on August 15th, 1947. And the time? The time matters, too. Well then: at night. No, it’s important to be more … On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clock-hands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came. Oh, spell it out, spell it out: at the precise instant of India’s arrival at independence, I tumbled forth into the world. There were gasps. And, outside the window, fireworks and crowds. A few seconds later, my father broke his big toe; but his accident was a mere trifle when set beside what had befallen me in that benighted moment, because thanks to the occult tyrannies of those blandly saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country. For the next three decades, there was to be no escape. Soothsayers had prophesied me, newspapers celebrated my arrival, politicos ratified my authenticity. I was left entirely without a say in the matter. I, Saleem Sinai, later variously called Snotnose, Stainface, Baldy, Sniffer, Buddha and even Piece-of-the-Moon, had become heavily embroiled in Fate—at the best of times a dangerous sort of involvement. And I couldn’t even wipe my own nose at the time.
     
    Now, however, time (having no further use for me) is running out. I will soon be thirty-one years old. Perhaps. If my crumbling, overused body permits. But I have no hope of saving my life, nor can I count on having even a thousand nights and a night. I must work fast, faster than Scheherazade, if I am to end up meaning—yes, meaning— something. I admit it: above all things, I fear absurdity.
     
    And there are so many stories to tell, too many, such an excess of intertwined lives events miracles places rumors, so dense a commingling of the improbable and the mundane! I have been a swallower of lives; and to know me, just the one of me, you’ll have to swallow the lot as well. Consumed multitudes are jostling and shoving inside me; and guided only by the memory of a large white bedsheet with a roughly circular hole some seven inches in diameter cut into the center, clutching at the dream of that holey, mutilated square of linen, which is my talisman, my open-sesame, I must commence the business of remaking my life from the point at which it really began, some thirty-two years before anything as obvious, as present, as my clock-ridden, crime-stained birth.
     
    (The sheet, incidentally, is stained too, with three drops of old, faded redness. As the Quran tells us: Recite, in the name of the Lord thy Creator, who created Man from clots of blood.)
     
     
    One Kashmiri morning in the early spring of 1915, my grandfather Aadam Aziz hit his nose against a frost-hardened tussock of earth while attempting to pray. Three drops of blood plopped out of his left nostril, hardened instantly in the brittle air and lay before his eyes on the prayer-mat, transformed into rubies. Lurching back until he knelt with his head once more upright, he found that the tears which had sprung to his eyes had solidified, too; and at that moment, as he brushed diamonds contemptuously from his lashes, he resolved never again to kiss earth for any god or man. This decision, however, made a hole in him, a vacancy in a vital inner chamber, leaving him vulnerable to women and history. Unaware of this at first, despite his recently completed medical training, he stood up, rolled the prayer-mat into a thick cheroot, and holding it under...
About the Author-
  • Salman Rushdie is the author of fourteen previous novels, including Midnight’s Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the Best of the Booker), Shame, The Satanic Verses, The Moor’s Last Sigh, and Quichotte, all of which have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize; a collection of stories, East, West; a memoir, Joseph Anton; a work of reportage, The Jaguar Smile; and three collections of essays, most recently Languages of Truth. His many awards include the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel, which he won twice; the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award; the National Arts Award; the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger; the European Union’s Aristeion Prize for Literature; the Budapest Grand Prize for Literature; and the Italian Premio Grinzane Cavour. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. He is a former president of PEN America. His books have been translated into over forty languages.
Reviews-
  • The New York Review of Books

    "Extraordinary . . . one of the most important [novels] to come out of the English-speaking world in this generation."

  • The New York Times "The literary map of India is about to be redrawn. . . . Midnight's Children sounds like a continent finding its voice."
  • The New Yorker "In Salman Rushdie, India has produced a glittering novelist-- one with startling imaginative and intellectual resources, a master of perpetual storytelling."
  • The Washington Post Book World "Burgeons with life, with exuberance and fantasy . . . Rushdie is a writer of courage, impressive strength, and sheer stylistic brilliance."
  • Chicago Sun-Times "Pure story--an ebullient, wildly clowning, satirical, descriptively witty charge of energy."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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A Novel
Salman Rushdie
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