Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reading Rainbow: Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie


That is the word that best sums up my feelings when I think about why I actually bothered finishing this book.

From the beginning, it was a chore.  Rushdie's train of thought never ended up matching up with mine.  Elements of his style struck me as both irksome and pretentious--namely his lack of comma-usage when listing of things in a series.  The cultural chasm between me and Rushdie's post-Independence India seemed hopelessly untraversable.

More importantly, though, it felt like I had kind of been there already.  Between having read Middlesex and One Hundred Years of Solitude fairly recently, the multi-generational magical realism on display didn't feel especially fresh.  Granted, Middlesex came about 20 years after Midnight's Children, but that's not the way I came to it, and One Hundred Years of Solitude was penned 14 years prior to Midnight's Children being published.

Mostly, though, the book never grabbed me.  I appreciate that it was trying to use its narrative to serve as an allegory for the burgeoning Indian Republic, but it didn't make me give a shit about it at any point.  Most of the characters were irritating more than anything else, including Saleem Sinai, the narrator, and the construct by which Saleem has omniscience seems a little too precious.

If anyone feels differently about the book, I'll gladly respond to comments.  I was definitely underwhelmed.


ATSchwitters said...

Seriously, Rushdie is a hack who is well regarded only because a bunch of idiots tried to kill him for 14 years. If he hadn't been married to Padma Lakshmi, he'd have zero important accomplishments to his name.

Old Man Duggan said...

Having only read this, I'm inclined to side with you, but maybe there's something else that he wrote that is actually decent.

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