By Salman Rushdie
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Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie ranked # 90 on The Modern Library's Top 100 Novels list as selected by its Board Members.
Midnight's Children is a 1980 novel by Salman Rushdie. It centres on the author's native India and was acclaimed as a major milestone in Post-colonial Literature.
Midnight's Children is a loose allegory for events in India both before and, primarily, after the independence and partition of India, which took place at midnight on 15 August 1947. The protagonist and narrator of the story is Saleem Sinai, a telepath with a nasal defect, who is born at the exact moment that India becomes independent. Saleem Sinai's life then parallels the changing fortunes of the country after independence.
The novel is also an expression of the author's own childhood, his affection for the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) in those times, and the tumultuous variety of the Indian subcontinent. The technique of magical realism finds liberal expression throughout the novel and is crucial to constructing the parallel to the country's history. It has, therefore, been compared to One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The novel is also recognised for its remarkably flexible and innovative use of the English language, with a liberal mix of native Indian languages, this being a departure from conventional Indian English writing.
The novel ran into some controversy for its open criticism of Indira Gandhi, India's then prime minister, and the Emergency that she imposed on the country.
The novel won the 1981 Booker Prize and was later awarded the 'Booker of Bookers' Prize in 1993 as the best novel to be awarded the Booker Prize in its first 25 years. Midnight's Children is also the only Indian novel on Time magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels since its founding in 1923.
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