Salman Rushdie was knighted in 2007 for his literary accomplishments. His writing career was launched based on the merit of Midnight’s Children (his second novel), which won the Booker Prize and the Booker of Bookers (best Booker prizewinner in a twenty-five-year period). Midnight’s Children was groundbreaking in its treatment of history, memory, and fantasy. Rushdie used all three avenues in a compendious effort to grapple with the history of India just before and thirty years after it gained independence from the British.
Rushdie’s narrator, Saleem Sinai, is born in Bombay at the same moment that the independent nation of India is born. Rushdie was born in Bombay in 1947 as well, but about two months before Saleem. Saleem very quickly establishes himself as an unreliable first-person narrator; he makes factual errors and tells lies. However, he is a very engaging and endearing storyteller because of his humour, his sense of foreshadowing, and his fallibility. He is also very self-centered and self-conscious; he sees himself as an important player in the unfolding of historical events, and he pays great attention to his storytelling and to the responses of his audience, Padma the pickle-factory worker.
In Saleem’s narrative, history, memory, and fantasy are represented by three powerful metaphors: pickling, a perforated sheet, and a silver spittoon inlaid with lapis lazuli. These metaphors permeate the story. Rushdie...
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