“The Best of the Booker, a one-off celebratory award to mark the 40th anniversary of the Booker Prize in 2008, was won by Salman Rushdie for Midnight’s Children. Midnight’s Children originally won the Booker Prize in 1981.”
[Quote from the Man Book Prize website.]
I wonder what this may mean to us in India. Would we feel elated because Rushdie and his ‘Midnight’s Children’ have championed the Indian nation? Would we feel it’s a great achievement for the Indian people and Indian literature? After all, though born in Mumbai, India and now New York-based, Rushdie is a British author writing in English.
To quote from a quote in my previous post (with a little modification), does “It thus ably represent the excellence and diversity of narrative traditions and literary approaches in a multilingual, multiconfessional country” that India truly is? Or, does Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’ reflect a globalised India where everyone speaks English?
I raise this point for two reasons: One, people across the world have begun to view Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’ as the quintessential Indian novel, ignoring many more-suitable examples from Indian literature (such as the earlier Bengali novels of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay or the more-recent novels of R K Narayan). And two, Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’ seems to have drowned out the rich, as well as complex, heritage and repertoire of Indian literature in its 20-odd (and many more) regional languages.
Don’t you think, to appreciate Indian literature, one has to understand her people – a great many of whom aren’t Midnight’s children – and her culture – which is steeped in thousands of years of traditions, superstitions, myths, philosophy, religions, logic and social structures? Perhaps, as a nation, we need to impress upon the world what Indian literature truly is. After all, a nation and its literature are closely tied.