Before I discuss what book I consider the most overrated book I have read, I must explain a couple of things. Firstly, just because I think it is overrated, doesn’t mean I dislike it – in fact, the book I have chosen for this I quite enjoyed overall. Secondly, I could have picked a book I utterly hated, but then that exact topic comes up in three days time for Day 11, so I wanted to focus on the fact that it is overrated, not my overall opinion of it.
With that in mind, I picked Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie as a book I feel is overrated. As I said, I like this book, and it certainly stirred my imagination. But it not only won the Booker Prize, but then won the Booker of Bookers twice, for the 25th and 40th anniversaries of the prize in 1993 and 2008 respectively. I liked this book, but winning the Booker three times? Really?
For those of you who haven’t read this book, it is a fictional account of India’s transition from British colonialism to independence, and the partition of India. It is told through the eyes of Saleem Sinai, who was born at midnight on August 15, 1947, making him as old as the independent republic itself, and also making him one of ‘midnight’s children’ – all the children in the country born at this time who are strangely imbued with special powers. Saleem is born with an incredible sense of smell (though with a nose that is constantly dripping), and more importantly, he is born with telepathy. He uses this to convene a telepathic meeting of all the midnight’s children, and discover their various talents. During the course of the novel, we also witness the various wars that follow this, leading up to the ‘Emergency’ declared by Indira Gandhi, a highly controversial historical event which Rushdie scathingly attacks in this novel, and which ended up making this novel and indeed Rushdie himself as controversial as the history he is trying to describe.
It is a good novel, and aside from the historical aspect of the novel, he develops his characters well, and weaves a good story. However, at points I felt like this novel just rambled on a little bit too much (which is a bit rich coming from me, the king of rambling…but seriously, he could have cut a fair bit out of this novel without damaging it too much). And while it is good, I feel like it just isn’t anywhere near the best book I have ever read. A good book, but not a great book, and definitely overrated. I also don’t think this novel is for everyone; some people will love it, but for some it may come across as just too unusual (especially the magic realism of it), or too long and tedious.
What are your thoughts if you have read this? Have you read any books that you liked but felt were overrated?