Midnight's Children Critical Overview - Essay

Salman Rushdie

Critical Overview

(Novels for Students)

Salman Rushdie's second novel after Grimus, Midnight's Children brought Rushdie international acclaim. It won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize and praise from practically every reviewer who wrote about it. Phyllis Birnbaum, for instance, noted in the March 1981 Saturday Review that "Rushdie pleases the senses and the heart." Charles R. Larson, in the May 23, 1981, issue of The New Republic, called the book "a dark and complex allegory": "The narrative conveys vindictiveness and pathos," Larson wrote, "humor and pain, and Rushdie's language and imagery are brilliant."

Almost as soon as it was published, reviewers began seeing in the book great significance, for India as well as for the author. Midnight's Children was examined with a close eye and appreciation for its achievement. For example, V. S. Pritchett, himself an acclaimed novelist, began a multi-page review in the New Yorker by noting that with this novel "India has produced a glittering novelist—one with startling imaginative and intellectual resources, a master of perpetual storytelling." Pritchett ended his review by noting that "as a tour de force, [Saleem Sinai's] fantasy is irresistible." Father David Toolan gave his perspective as a Jesuit reading about Rushdie's India, referring to it as a "Chaplinesque novel" and commenting that "In remythologizing disenchanted Bombay—and so much else—without domesticating the energy there one whit, Rushdie...

(The entire section is 231 words.)