Midnight's Children

1981 novel by Salman Rushdie

Midnight's Children (1980) is a novel by Salman Rushdie that deals with India's transition from British colonialism to independence and the partition of British India.


  • And there are so many stories to tell, too many, such an excess of intertwined lives events miracles places rumors, so dense a commingling of the improbable and the mundane! I have been a swallower of lives; and to know me, just the one of me, you'll have to swallow the lot as well.
    • Chapter 1, "The Perforated Sheet"
  • What had been (at the beginning) no bigger than a full stop, had expanded into a comma, a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter; now it was bursting into more complex developments, becoming, one might say, a book - perhaps an encyclopedia - even a whole language ...
    • Chapter 7, "Methwold"
  • No people whose word for "yesterday" is the same as their word for "tomorrow" can be said to have a firm grip on the time.
    • Chapter 8, "Tick, Tock"
  • There was one more serious problem... they failed to notice the immobility of my eyelids... they observed my icy blueness, but there was not the slightest tremor; until Amina took matters into her own hands and reached into the cradle to stroke my eyelids downwards. They closed: my breathing altered, instantly, to the contented rhythms of sleep. After that, for several months, mother and ayah took it in turns to open and close my lids. "He'll learn, Madam," Mary comforted Amina, "He is a good obedient child and he will get the hang of it for sure." I learned: the first lesson of my life: nobody can face the world with his eyes open all the time.
    • Chapter 9, "The Fisherman's Pointing Finger"
  • "You be respectable, sister," she said, "Me, I'll be alive."
    • Chapter 23, "How Saleem Achieved Purity"
  • Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I've gone which would not have happened if I had not come. Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter; each "I," every one of the now-six-hundred-million-plus of us, contains a similar multitude. I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you'll have to swallow a world.
    • Chapter 26, "Sam and the Tiger"
  • Children are vessels where adults pour their poison.
    • Chapter 27, "The Shadow of the Mosque"
  • There is no magic on earth strong enough to wipe out the legacies of one's parents.
    • Chapter 27, "The Shadow of the Mosque"
  • It has often been said that Mrs. Gandhi's younger son Sanjay accused his mother of being responsible, through her neglect, for his father's death; and that this gave him an unbreakable hold over her, so that she became incapable of denying him anything.
    • Chapter 28, "A Wedding", first edition only
  • Hell is other people's fantasies: every saga requires at least one descent into Jahannum, and I followed Picture Singh into the inky negritude of the Club, holding an infant son in my arms.
    • Chapter 30, "Abracadabra"