In this literary essay, Ramlal Agarwal takes us through Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children calling it a saga set in the backdrop of Partition traversing three generations of a liberal Kashmiri Muslim family which moves from Kashmir to Amritsar, to Agra, to Delhi, to Bombay and to Karachi.
Midway through Midnight’s Children, Rushdie, in an aside, wants to know from Padma, his muse, “Can any narrative stand so much so soon?” Padma was stunned by the query but Rushdie does not wait for her answer and plunges headlong into his narrative of so much so soon. He tells multiple stories in multiple styles and walks away triumphantly with the Booker Prize and the Booker of Bookers Prize. The novel received rave reviews. Malcolm Bradbury in The Modern British Novel observes,
“In several senses Midnight’s Children marked a new narrative start. The book turns on the moment of India’s post-imperial rebirth.”
Before Rushdie, the Indian novel in English was hamstrung by the hangover of colonial conscience. But, by the 1960s the colonial clouds cleared and a band of new writers emerged who had acquired extraordinary competence in the use of English language and the confidence to be independent. Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children set the trend.