This story is about Saleem Sinai, born at the precise moment of India’s Independence. His birth is celebrated, as his life is considered to be, in a sense, a mirror of life of newly independent India itself. He figures out that his life is both metaphorically and literally related to the significant happenings in his nation. Also, because of the coincidence of birth of Saleem and free India, Saleem is born with telepathic powers, and an uncanny sense of smell that allows him to sniff out dangers others cannot perceive. He experiences ebbs and flows in his life right from the time of his birth. The story is about how Saleem deals with these variations and how India reacts to the changes.
This book takes us through time and the changing face of India since its Independence. The author has unhesitatingly, bravely and boldly depicted even the darkest of events and emotions through the eyes of the protagonist, Saleem Sinai. It is probably the courageous candidness of the author that got this book the Booker Prize in 1981, the year of its release, and later, the “Booker of Bookers” honor in 1993 and 2008.
The writer has used allegorical first person narration to give it an impression of being an autobiography of the central character, Saleem Sinai. Rushdie has elaborately and deeply described the transition of India from being a British colony to a free nation, coupling through magical realism, the life of Saleem Sinai with the developments, both white and grey, within free India. The language is complicated, yet apt. The generous use of metaphors adds mysticism and magic to the narration.
When I began reading the book, the sequence and the significance of the described events failed to make much sense to me. But as I flipped through some more pages, the story started gaining shape and gripped me. The narration is so vivid, that I found myself moving through the streets of Delhi and strolling along the beaches of Mumbai (Bombay of that time) with the characters. I love the mystical bonding of Saleem’s life with the significant events taking place in the country, and the way Rushdie has furnished it with credibility. The book is copiously filled with intellect.
Book Reviewed By Tanvi Singhal
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