- Kimberly Okesalako
Salman Rushdie’s much celebrated (alas much scandalous) book Midnight’s Children tells the story of our young Nation as it is mirrored in the chronicle of the life of the main protagonist, Saleem Sinai, who is also born on the stroke of midnight, August 15, 1947.
The style of the book – “magical realism” is the natural choice of any artist, eager to tell the truth, but trying to avoid the wrath of the powerful national leaders, veiling the facts, Scheherazade like, trying to stay alive, behind the thin silk of the fictional story, which didn’t stop Indira Gandhi from bringing an action against the book in the British courts in 1984, claiming to have been defamed.
Salman Rushdie provides us not only with the richest reading experience, reveals us the lessons which seem to be forgotten in the impetuous growth of India, all that in style Oscar Wilde would be envious about (oh, boy, he’s got some style), continuously surprising us with his magnificent command of English language, but also completely redrawing the literary map, bestowing India with one of the most important books to come out of the English-speaking world in his generation.
Unfortunately, the book and Salman Rushdie himself remain to be ostracized in India, which is clearly indicated by the ban of the screen adaptation shot in 2012, from screening in India.
My only hope is that Salman Rushdie’s books stop just being scandalously known, but start being read and appreciated in India, as any book which is the Winner of the Booker of Bookers, listed on the BBC’s survey The Big Read and added to the list of The Great Books of the 20th Century, published by Penguin Books, should be read and appreciated.