A rowdy group of bookclubbers descended for the last book club of the year (and the last book club at its current home) to discuss Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. We welcomed Alexandra to the group and said bonjour encore to a couple of 2nd timers (they didn’t run away!)
It would be fair to say that this book literally (yes, literally – although maybe not in the scientific sense) polarised the group. Scores ranged from 1 to 10. The average score, therefore, was a rather pleasing 5.3/10
So why the huge differences of opinion? Some of the group were blown away by the use of language, the ambition, the style, the metaphor, the story. Some of the group found the book “boring”, “awful”, “unengaging”. Salman Rushdie certainly has a very particular style of story telling which didn’t sit well with some of the group. As discussed, it could be that your brain needs time to ‘warm up’ to Rushdie – not something that everyone has the luxury of doing. However, it’s clear, that if you can find the time and the concentration, Rushdie may be a very rewarding read.
There was a good discussion about the unreliability of the narrator, and of our own memories. We talked about how people have a tendency to shape their memories into a reflection of themselves – this gave Midnight’s Children (and the narrator’s forgetfulness) a very human quality.
Padma was seen as the voice of reason throughout the book (someone suggested she was the voice of the frustrated reader – imploring Saleem to just GET ON WITH IT)
There was quite a big conversation about the role of the British empire in the novel (many people found the book encouraged them to find out a little more about this element of history. If you want a good read on it there’s a comprehensive breakdown here: http://www.victorianweb.org/history/empire/india/)
The (book part) of the meeting closed with a discussion around globalization, Donald Trump (of course), upbringing, and the effect of family values on wider societal values.
Then we started talking about true crime podcasts and the thread was lost somewhat.