Winner of the 1981 Booker Prize, the 1993 ‘Booker of Bookers’ and the ‘Best of the Booker’ in 2008, Midnight’s Children is one of the best-loved novels of the twentieth century. Its author, Salman Rushdie, was born just months before India’s independence from British colonial rule and, like the novel’s narrator Saleem Sinai, he grew up as a witness of his country’s struggle for democracy, justice and peace. Midnight’s Children is an exuberant, riotous celebration of the richness of Indian society, but it also contains stark criticisms, particularly of politicians. It is an adventure-story, a love-story and a thriller, a war novel and an international and multi-generational portrait of India in the three decades after Independence. The activities in this module invite you to consider the political significance of the novel in four stages.
Activity 1 - Autobiographical introductions compares Midnight’s Children with other literary texts, asking you to consider the significance of the novel’s form as fictional autobiography.
Activity 2 - Language and atrocity takes a closer look at two key passages to explore the way that Rushdie uses literary techniques to make political points.
Activity 3 - Use your ImagiNation introduces you to some key ideas from postcolonial theory and asks you to consider the relationship between fiction and nation.
Activity 4 - Speaking to / speaking for the nation develops these ideas further and invites you to reflect on your own experiences of reading international literature in English.