Tryst with Midnight’s Salman Rushdie | india | Hindustan Times
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Tryst with Midnight’s Salman Rushdie

india Updated: Jul 13, 2008 22:57 IST

Ooh, aren’t you excited about Salman Rushdie winning the Booker of Bookers for Midnight’s Children?
Oh my god! I’ve travelled back in time! I’m in 1993. Mulayam Yadav and Mayawati are friends! Narasimha Rao is the Prime Minister. And I’m in my first job hoping to make lakhs every month 15 years later. Help! Get me out of here!

Abey, shut up. Okay, so Rushdie did get the Booker of Bookers also in 1993 when the prize was celebrating its 25th year of existence. So the same guy has got the same prize for the same book 15 years later. And I should be excited?

Ah, but you see, this year’s prize shows how popular Midnight’s Children, first published in April 1981, remains for a new generation of readers.

How do you know it’s not the same folks who’ve voted this time too? Around 8,000 people from across the world participated in the online poll and Rushdie’s book won 36 per cent of the votes.
Hmm. So all the NRIs voted. Would have been a different story if Rushdie was a Norwegian or if Midnight’s Children was a novel about a beautiful French actress whose craving for passion and vengeance took her from the gutters of Paris to the bedroom of a millionaire.

That’s The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon, you oaf!
Well, one title Rushdie had been toying with while he was a copyeditor at O&M in London and working on the story was ‘Children of Midnight’.

That sounds like a John Carpenter horror film, not a Booker-winning and a twice Booker of Bookers-winning novel!
You do know that the character of Saleem Sinai, the telepath hero of Midnight’s Children, was taken and expanded upon from Rushdie’s unpublished dud of a novel, The Antagonist.

Hmm. Suddenly Children of Midnight sounds better. But coming back to the Booker of Bookers, half of those surveyed were under 35 years, the largest group being 25-34. And even if it was NRIs voting en masse, it does overturn that old Anglo-American dominance of English writing.

You actually think NRIs voted because they loved the book? Try putting Shah Rukh Khan on the next Booker of Bookers shortlist and see what happens.

Don’t say: I prefer his A Suitable Boy.
Do say: Someone issue a fatwa on this ridiculous Booker of Bookers nonsense!