Health, Sports & Psychology

A reader's guide to Midnight's Children

Updated Monday 1st November 2004

Salman Rushdie's 1981 Booker Prize-winning novel Midnight's Children traces India's transition from British colonialism to independence.

The expression ‘magical realism’ was first coined by a German critic called Franz Roh, in the 1920s. He was describing art which was realist but which, at the same time, had a strange, supernatural quality, and the term was applied to the work of a school of artists.

Later, in Latin America, ‘magic realism’ became associated with a literary style. Subsequent exponents of the genre have included Peter Carey, Angela Carter, John Fowles, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Salman Rushdie. They blend opposites, fusing ordinary characters and events with fantastical and mythical ones. The effect conveys a sense of something that is simultaneously familiar and dreamlike.

Salman Rushdie Creative commons image Icon canada2020 under CC-BY-NC-ND under Creative-Commons license

Midnight’s Children is the story of a child who is born at the moment of India’s independence, on 15th August 1947. The boy, Shiva, assumes the identity of another, Saleem Sinai, after being swapped by a midwife. He and one thousand other infants born at this time have special powers, his being the ability to see into people’s hearts and minds.

In this exuberant comic allegory, Saleem’s life becomes inextricably linked to the course of India’s development. His hope is that ‘midnight’s children’ will contribute to the nation’s future; however he then has to contend with Shiva, his alter ego...

Rushdie’s novel caused controversy because it was regarded as portraying Indira and Sanjay Gandhi unfavourably. It won the Booker Prize in 1981 and went on to scoop the ‘Booker of Bookers’ awards; yet in last year’s Big Read competition Midnight’s Children came last in the list of 100.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Looking for dirty galaxies Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University video icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Looking for dirty galaxies

The Open University's Mattia Negrello has been using gravitational lensing to seek out dirty galaxies. How does he do it - and, what does it mean when he finds them?

Video
5 mins
Breakfast cereals – back to the future? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Breakfast cereals – back to the future?

The Open University's Dick Morris looks at how cereals represent a modern take on the oldest of all human diets

Article
99Rewind: Looking back and fast-forwarding to 2011 Creative commons image Icon Welsh Assembly Government / Llywodraeth Cymru under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

99Rewind: Looking back and fast-forwarding to 2011

As 99Rewind finishes, Dewi Knight looks at the parallels between 1999 and 2011 and some of the key personalities from both campaigns

Article
Putting pen to algae Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University video icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Putting pen to algae

Jin Ae Lee is editor and secretary of The Asian Network for Using Algae as a CO2 sink. She describes the process of using red algae to make paper, and explains how seaweed could help reduce carbon dioxide levels

Video
5 mins
Personal Best: Persistence Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University video icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Personal Best: Persistence

OU sports academic Jessica Pinchbeck and athletes talk about developing 'grit' to overcome adversity and progress towards a goal.

Video
Day 10 - Plain English Day Creative commons image Icon By mag3737 via Flickr under Creative Commons license under Creative-Commons license article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Day 10 - Plain English Day

As we approach the season where families and friends get together to talk, talk, talk, we delve into the world of gobbledygook to commemorate Plain English Day (10th December 2010)

Article
A reader's guide to The Promise Of Happiness Creative commons image Icon pyrat_wesly under CC-BY-NC under Creative-Commons license article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

A reader's guide to The Promise Of Happiness

Justin Cartwight's novel is a intimate and moving portrait of the challenges facing a middle-class family.

Article
Day 18 - Waste not, want not Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Day 18 - Waste not, want not

After the Big Day, do you wonder what happens to all the waste wrapping paper, packaging and food?

Article
The taboo body: How memorial practices avoid the corpse Creative commons image Icon Robin Webster under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

The taboo body: How memorial practices avoid the corpse

The presence of the body is delicately avoided when people gather at a graveside to remember their lost, explains Kate Woodthorpe.

Article