12:00 midnight of August 15, 1947, Saleem Sinai was born – precisely the moment of India’s independence and partition. Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children tells the story of India since partition through the story of Saleem, his life unfolding as an allegory for history of the nation.
The challenges of nation-building, the legacy of colonialism, the question of identity in a place of religious and political diversity, multiculturalism and multilingualism in the struggle for national unity, memory and collective amnesia in the construction of a national story, a national mythology – the novel explores these and more through the devices of both historical fiction and magical realism.
Rushdie’s story of colonization, freedom and statehood is recognized as one of the most significant novels of the late twentieth century, and a foundational text of post-colonial literature. Protagonist and telepath Saleem Sinai is – with all other children born in the hour of India’s birth as a nation – the new country made human, personal embodiment of India, its promise, its faltering, its transition from idea to state.