Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children Study Guide

Published in 1980, Midnight’s Children follows the tumultuous transition into India's and, to a lesser extent, Pakistan’s independence after the partition of British India. The story itself is allegorical with the main events being about the life of Saleem Sinai, a boy who was born at the stroke of midnight on the same day that India gained its freedom from England.

Salman Rushdie, the novel’s author, created the book to be a fictional biography of the country from the point of view of someone who grew up alongside the nation. Rushdie himself was born in 1947, just two months before the country’s liberation in August. As such, he had a unique perspective on the country’s adolescent years as they coincided with his own. These same ideas are injected into Saleem’s story; the changes that befall Saleem in terms of wealth and identity are indicative of India’s growth.

Like Rushdie’s other novels, Midnight’s Children uses magical realism as a device to combine history with Rushdie’s fictional twist on history. Rushdie also employs postcolonial theory to show how imperialism handicapped countries like India trying to reestablish their culture and identity. Also subject to Rushdie’s critique is how social class and religion contributed to India’s uncertain beginnings.

Midnight’s Children won the 1981 Book Prize. Then in both 1993 and 2008, it won the Best of the Book prize on the prize’s respective 25th and 40th anniversary. It also won the English Speaking Union Literary Award as well as the James Tait Prize. The story was adapted to the stage in 2003 by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Later in 2012, a film version premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.