Comment on Midnight's Children as a landmark in the history of the Indian novel in English.
It is clear that this novel, more than any other before it, was the first Indian novel written in English to gain the widespread attention of the English reading public. This was partly due to the fact that it was awared the Booker Prize for literature, which gained it fame and ensured that it was read widely in both Great Britain and the United States. However, what makes it a true "landmark" in the history of the Indian novel written in English is the way that it seeks to explore India's identity in particularly postcolonial terms. Remember that Saleem Sinai is born just as India a a nation is born, after the Raj, or Britain's colonial control of India, ceases. Therefore the reader is meant to see a parallel between Saleem and the new nation into which he is born. Note how Saleem himself answers the question of "Who am I?":
I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I'm gone which would not have happened if I had not come.
India and this central character are wedded together. Saleem at various points states how his fate is wedded to that of his country. As Saleem reminisces about his life he says he is dying because he suffers the same problem that India suffers from, having been suddenly plunged from immaturity to maturity. He says he is "falling apart," and the reader is meant to see Saleem's life as he grows up and ages as allegorically representing the new life of India as a nation. In the end, Saleem is only able to gain a measure of peace when he accepts his own fragility and vulnerability, which presents Rushdie's view that India as a nation is actually very vulnerable because of its background and the realities that threaten to destroy it. What makes this such a landmark book therefore is that it both came to the attention of a massive audience and that it was the first Indian novel written in English that sought to capture the realities of India in terms of its identity.