calico_pye (calico_pye) wrote,
calico_pye
calico_pye

Reading List Summer 2017 - Salman Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children'

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I am having a reading list this summer as I have done in previous years and if anyone wants to join in with their own book at depth, please feel free - I would be fascinated as to what people are reading.

Salman Rushdie is of course famous for his book Satanic Verses (1988) a few years ago, the publishing of which got him into hot water.  I have picked up another of his books Midnight's Children (1981), as I came across it in a branch of Waterstones and, rather than put it down, bought it and added it to my never ending list of 'books to read.'  I decided not to read the blurb on his life or other works and just launched myself in.  My first impressions are that he is an interesting author and has a magical way of describing things that mix up the mundane with the fantastic -  I suspect that he uses magical realism to do this.  For instance, the protagonist is born at an auspicious time; namely 'on the stroke iof midnight [...] Clock hands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came [at the] precise instant of India's arrival at independence' (p.3).  This kind of reminds me of Angela Carter's introduction of Fevvers back in Nights at the Circus (1984), where clocks and the distortion of time played an important part.

The protagonist introduces the image of his grandfather, eminent doctor Aadam Aziz, whose nose has just hit the frozen ground as he attempts to pray, the droplets of blood and tears magically transforming themselves into 'rubies [and] diamonds' (p.4).  It appears to be a novel of body parts - at first the aforementioned proboscis of the Aziz family.

'That's a nose to start a family with [...] on Aadam Aziz, the nose assumed a patriarchal aspect.  On my mother, it looked noble and a little long-suffering; on my aunt Emerald, snobbish; on my aunt Alia, intellectual; on my uncle Hanif it was the organ of an unsuccessful genius; my uncle Mustapha made it a second-rate sniffer [...] on me, it was something else again' (p.9-10)


Aadam Aziz manages to become romantically-involved with and ends up marrying a patient, of whom he has only seen in various states of health through a hole in a sheet and there is a sense of fleeting body parts that eventually become assimilated when he finally sees his wife-to-be's face.

The book has an interesting layer of hazy, other worldliness to it and I love the description which conjour up smells that could only mean the essense of India.  I have stopped on p.37 and will resume reading tomorrow.
Tags: summer book list 2017
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