Midnight’s Children

by: Salman Rushdie

Saleem Sinai

Saleem Sinai is the protagonist and narrator of Midnight’s Children. He is born, along with one other child, at the exact moment of India’s independence. His identity, however, is switched at birth. As a result, he is raised by a prosperous family in Bombay, while his counterpart and future rival, Shiva, is raised in poverty. Saleem has the powers of telepathy and a preternaturally acute sense of smell, which allow him to find the other children of midnight and create the Midnight’s Children’s Conference. As he approaches his thirty-first birthday, he says he is nearing death. His body is literally falling apart, and it’s only a matter of time before he crumbles into dust. Driven by a desire to beat his biological clock, Saleem narrates his life story to his devoted and loving caretaker, Padma. His tale, which begins with his grandfather Aadam and is at times unreliable and contrived, represents not only his individual life story but also the entire history of postcolonial India. All the major events in his life correspond to important political events in Indian history, leading him to compare his narrative to religious texts. Given his fantastic birth and extraordinary powers, the prime minister of India, Indira Ghandi, seeks to destroy him along with the other midnight’s children.