Fifteen years ago, my girlfriends and I started a book club. All avid readers, it was the perfect excuse for regular get-togethers that involved book discussions, tea and quality time together. Our book club lasted 10 years before we broke up – marriage, kids, fulltime jobs … all these things added up to mean that time for book club was scarce. But after a five-year hiatus, we’ve all agreed that we miss our book club so much, it was time to fire her up again! So 2013 marks the launch of Book Club 2.0 and our first book (my pick) is: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.
Why I chose it: Midnight’s Children is one of those books that’s been on my to-read list for ages. Published in 1981, it won the Booker Prize. Then, in 1993, it became the esteemed winner of the Booker of Bookers, the best of all the previous prizewinners. That’s quite an endorsement. And I’m an avid follower of the Booker Prize. Life of Pi is one of the best books I’ve read and Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending was bitty and brilliant. I had high hopes for Midnight’s Children.
The premise: The story’s concept is superb. It’s about the children who are born at the stroke of midnight at the exact hour of India’s hard-earned independence. Each of the children born during this hour has magical gifts bestowed upon them. The story draws a parallel between the life of one of these newborn children, Saleem Sinai and the newly born, independent India.
So far: I’m more than halfway through and I have to say: I’m not loving it. A reader on GoodReads said this of the book in her review: If beating around the bush was a crime, then Salman Rushdie would be charged with aggravated assault and attempt to murder that bush. I couldn’t agree more. The story is so slowly meandering that I’m finding it impossible to stay engaged. Granted, the reader whose review I’ve quoted gave the book five stars, so her comment it seems is more observation than criticism. But for me, the pace coupled with Rushdie’s painfully indirect approach to storytelling leave me frustrated. It’s not the premise or the story itself that are flawed (in my very humble opinion); it’s simply a writing style I could not find my rhythm with.
I so wanted to love this book. I so wanted to understand and appreciate the genius that the Booker Prize judges and countless others found within the pages of Rushdie’s story. Alas, I did not. Have you read this book? I would love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments section below.
My rating: 2 out of 5