Salman Rushdie was born in Bombay in 1947 into a middle-class Muslim family. He was sent to school in England, and graduated in History at Cambridge University. He worked for some time in television as an actor. He is currently living in England.
Rushdie gained international fame with his first novel Midnight’s Children.
It gave rise to much controversy in India because of its negative portrait of Indira Gandhi and her son, who at the time was involved in a much criticized sterilization campaign trying to solve country’s overpopulation and hunger problems.
He also wrote The Satanic Verses that were considered sacrilegious and enraged the Iranian ayatollah who in 1989 issued a fatwa (an Islamic sentence) condemning the writer to death.
It is an allegorical novel, covering several fields, from social to political, from philosophical to religious. Violence occurred in cities where the book was sold and Rushdie had to go into hiding.
Rushdie’s favorite themes are exile, metamorphosis and rootlessness, presented in allegorical form.
Midnight’s Children is a comical allegory of Indian history and takes its title from Nehru’s speech delivered at the stroke of midnight, 14 August 1947, as India gained its independence from England.
Rushdie draws on a vast range of Eastern and Western traditions, languages and genres: fantasy, mythology, religion and oral tradition.
This realistic and, at the same time, fantastic narrative work, where supernatural facts, blend and combine with precise historical and cultural references, can be placed in the trend known as “magic realism”.
It means the combining of realism with the fantastic, of historical facts with the dream and the inexplicable.
His narrative technique is composite; his novels are written in sequences of different styles, using a flexible method described as bricolage. His prose has a definite ironical tone which sometimes become satirical.
The story revolves around the narrator, Saleem Sinai, and the one thousand children born in the precise moment when India became independent (the midnight between 14 and 15 August 1947).
All of these children have been given some magical feature. Saleem has a large nose which gives him the ability to see into the heart and minds of men. His chief rival is Shiva, who has the power of war.
Saleem, dying in a factory near Bombay, tells his tragicomic story.