What we're reading: Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

In our adventure issue, we wrote about books we read while visiting the place they were set: London, The Cairngorms, the French Riviera and Toronto. But there were plenty of loved tomes we couldn't squeeze onto our pages. Here's one said outtake. Not read where it was set, but read on the move. Which is, more often than not in the busy city we're based in, where we do the bulk of our reading. Our lifestyle editor Liz Seabrook shares her thoughts on Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children.

It took me a little over four months to read Midnight’s Children. I realise this doesn’t sound overwhelmingly positive, but let me explain. I can only read when in transit, and – as I usually cycle – sitting still with nothing to do is a rare luxury. My time spent with my nose among pages tends to be limited. 

Midnight’s Children tells the story of three generations of a family, starting with the conception of the protagonist’s parents, to his own conception and his life up until it catches up with his present day. The history of India and Pakistan are charted alongside personal histories, journeys are taken, houses are moved out of and people are lost. The plot – though for the most part chronological – is dense and interwoven with heady descriptions that conjure each and every scene in technicolour. 

In the course of reading the book, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend, saw my sister graduate, travelled through the Alps to Austria to visit an old friend and made new friends who I’ve since lost touch with. For those four months, I had a much needed travelling companion in the shape of a midnight blue, 500 or so page paperback. In that time our stories intertwined; as I sat curled up in a train carriage in Austria with Sigur Ros playing in my ears, my mind was transported to watching a boy in Bombay cycle about trying to impress a girl six months older than him. 

As I turned the last page, my heart sank; I was losing a friend. I didn’t start to read another book for a while after that. Partly because I was back in London, riding around, but partly because I was scared nothing would measure up. I’m still unsure if anything has. 

Image and Words: Liz Seabrook

 

To read about literary adventures from Canada to the Cairngorms (via Fitzgerald's French Riviera), and find out why on earth we were reading 50 Shades of Grey in 2016, grab a copy of Issue 31 here

 

Liz Seabrook

London, UK