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Midnight's Children - in 67 words

Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie in Budapest, 29 November 2007

Salman Rushdie's epic novel has been named Best of the Booker on the 40th anniversary of the prestigious literary prize. How might those who cannot fathom or finish it still appear erudite? By reading a precis of course.

And here is where we need your help.

Midnight's Children weighs in at a hefty 672 pages, but we want the story in 67 words.

In this time-poor age, not every reader will get round to finishing it - or even starting it.

The panel of judges whittled down the past winners to a shortlist of six, which included JM Coetzee's Disgrace, Pat Barker's The Ghost Road and Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda.

But anyone could vote for the winner, whether they had read the books or not. So it's possible that some voters simply opted for the man who already has two Bookers under his belt.

Midnight's Children is not the easiest of reads. The tale told by a child born at the moment of Indian independence is densely written, political and full of magic realism.

Have you read it? As a public service to those who have not, send us your precis in no more than 67 words using the form below.

Here is a selection of the best:

Dr. Adam Aziz breaks his nose praying to Allah and loses faith. His daughter Amina gives birth to THE boy in the moment of independence. Saleem the psychic and Shiva the fighter, swapped in hospital by Mary Pereira: a nose and knees, alpha and omega. Don't forget Saleem Sinai: lying about your fertility is bad luck. Good thing Mary Pereira makes the best Mango Chutney in India.
Ok Os, Los Chorrillos, Venezuela

Saleem Sinai is born on the stroke of midnight, the same moment independent India is born, the child of many mothers. With his gift of telepathy he links up the network of other magical children born that night, including his nemesis also born exactly at midnight. His life parallel's India's birth, pain and growth; his survival and impotency leaves a similar legacy for a vast, contradictory nation.
Sanam, Dhaka, Bangladesh

A bloke's born in India at the moment of independence. He's got some kind of magic nose. His life parallels events in the subcontinent. It's like an intellectual Forrest Gump. No, it's alright because you learn quite a bit about the recent history of the region.
Richard, Marlow, UK

Born the minute India and Pakistan come into existence, Muslim Saleem and Hindu Shiva are two boys who were switched at birth. Saleem - in reality the illegitimate child of an English father and Hindu mother - tells the meandering story of his family and his memory of events. Woven together by the metaphors of chutney and bastards, the tale is a "factual-fantastical" allegory of India's post-independence history.
Nandita Batra, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

Midnight's Children combines the rich scents of fruits stewing with the stink of street decay and the messiness of a vast rebirth.
Julia Barello, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA

It's a story about a boy, born at the midnight point of India's independence, and who is switched at birth. Growing up in India which is struggling for political stability. The boy is ugly, has a huge nose and chronic catarrh. (Autobiographical, maybe?). He basically hears the voices of other children born at midnight, until he has his nose fixed. And then they go away!
Liz, Kingston

14 August 1947, at the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. The freedom gave birth to two boys. Through the eyes of one boy you will be guided through Bharat and feel what the Indians felt after the independence. With a beautiful masala of poverty, anger, romance and unawareness. The power of this novel is the honesty.
Radjinderkoemar Balkaran, Den Haag, The Netherlands

Quasi religious/magical/political exploration of a society through the condensed experience of one Anglo-Indian drip-nosed telepathic narrator.
Tony Nicholls, Swindon


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