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ERRATA: OR, UNRELIABLE NARRATION IN MIDNIGHTS CHILDREN It is by now obvious, I hope, that Saleem Sinai is an unreliable narrator, and

that Midnights Children is far from being an authoritative guide to the history of postindependence India. So let me confess that the novel does contain a few mistakes that are mine as well as Saleems. () When I first found out my error I was upset and tried to have it corrected. Now Im not so sure. The mistake feels more and more like Saleems; its wrongness feels right. Originally error-free passages had the taint of inaccuracy introduced. Unintentional mistakes were, on being discovered, not expunged from the text, but, rather, emphasized, given more prominence in the story. So my subject changed, was no longer a search for lost time, had become the way in which we remake the past to suit our present purposes, using memory as our tool. Saleems greatest desire is for what he calls meaning, and near the end of his broken life he sets out to write himself, in the hope that by doing so he may achieve the significance that the events of his adulthood have drained from him. () He wants so to shape his material that the reader will be forced to concede his central role. He is cutting up history to suit himself, just as he did when he cut up newspapers to compose his earlier text, the anonymous note to Commander Sabarmati. He is also remembering, of course, and one of the simplest truths about any set of memories is that many of them will be false. Thereafter, as I wrote the novel, and whenever a conflict arose between literal and remembered truth, I would favour the remembered version. His story is not history, but it plays with historical shapes. History is always ambiguous. Facts are hard to establish, and capable of being given many meanings. Reality is built on our prejudices, misconceptions and ignorance as well as on our perceptiveness and knowledge. The reading of Saleems unreliable narration might be, I believe, a useful analogy for the way in which we all attempt to read the world. IMAGINARY HOMELANDS It may be that writers in my position, exiles or emigrants or expatriates, are haunted by some sense of loss, some urge to reclaim, to look back () But if we do look back, we must also do so in the knowledge which gives rise to profound uncertainties that our physical alienation from India almost inevitably means that we will not be capable of reclaiming precisely the that was lost; that we will, in short, create fictions, not actual cities or village, but invisible ones, imaginary homelands, Indias of the mind. () What I was actually doing was a novel of memory and about memory, so that my India was just that: my India, a version and no more than one version of all the hundreds of millions possible versions.

This is why I made my narrator suspect in his narration; his mistakes are the mistakes of a fallible memory compounded by quirks of character and of circumstance, and his vision is fragmentary. Of course Im not gifted with total recall, and, it was precisely the partial nature of these memories, their fragmentation, that made them so evocative for me. The shards of memory acquired greater status, greater resonance, because they were remains; fragmentation made trivial things seem like symbols, and the mundane acquired numinous qualities.