Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Chutnification: the immortalization of a cucumber, or rather, a nose, into something indelibly Indian.
This story of an inner-ear and nose follows through India's independence through the Emergency during Indra Ghandi, taking on mythological proportions. It is, first and foremost, a delightful, sensual, funny, detailed portrayal of a family saga that pretty much mirrors the trials and tribulations of India itself. Between the partition, Pakistan, the wars, the religions, the profundity of an India that cannot know itself.
To know one person in India, you must eat the world. You must eat it every time for every person.
But as if this wasn't enough to make a brilliant novel, and it certainly is deserving all the awards it ever got, it ALSO happens to be science fiction. Or is it? The thing is, all these Midnight Children born on the hour of India's rebirth (even if political), are all gifted with extraordinary powers.
Our main character, Saleem, when really young, had an ever-snotty nose, and while it was blocked, he could read minds. He was able to contact all the Midnight Children and connect them all. When he could breathe right, he had a preternaturally supreme sense of smell. Others could enter mirrors, change their sex at will, become werewolves. 512 children. All of them modern Hindu Gods. :)
But this book is full of tragedies as well as humor, full of profundity and silliness, anger and optimism, memory and forgetfulness. Just like India, the family is all things at all times and can never be pigeonholed.
I could easily write a few books on this book. It's just that rich. And delightful. I know enough of this part of the world that I didn't flounder that much, but more than that, I was struck by the smells this book evoked. :) I rather fell into the book and couldn't breathe until I finished.
Ah, it deserves all the praise. :)
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