Non-Fiction at a Glance

Self, Nation, Text in Salman Rushdie’s

Self, Nation, Text In Salman Rushdie’s
Neil Ten Kortenaar

McGill-Queen's University Press
$60
cloth
317pp
0-7735-2615-83

One of the great novels of the twentieth century has now received the study it deserves. Midnight’s Children was the big bang of modern Indian fiction in English; Rushdie found the perfect springboard – the lives of people born on India’s Independence Day – and the endless exuberant language to capture all the richness and contradiction of his country’s difficult birth and halting growth. Kortenaar reads the book from a number of angles, chiefly historical allegory and coming-of-age tales (both of a boy and a nation), and strikes a nice balance between academic rigour and accessibility. The glossary alone is a major achievement – even Indian readers are likely to make new discoveries. Too many studies of this kind drain all the fun from their sources, but Kortenaar’s is an illuminating companion piece for readers who, like this reviewer, find themselves returning to Midnight’s Children again and again. mRb

Ian McGillis writes about books and visual arts for the Montreal Gazette. He is the author of the bestselling novel A Tourist’s Guide to Glengarry, and is currently working on a memoir about life as an obsessive fan of soul, reggae, and hip-hop.

Leave a Reply