At the stroke of midnight on August 15th, 1947, as India declares independence from Great Britain, two babies are switched at birth by a nurse in a Bombay hospital. And so it is that Saleem Sinai, the bastard child of a beggar woman, and Shiva, the only son of a wealthy couple, are fated to live the destinies meant for each other. An epic saga starts in the full flower of the British Empire, from the unlikely courtship of Saleem's grandparents in 1917 to the birth of his own son in the late 1970's. In between, families are torn asunder, lovers are separated and reunited, the privileged become poor, the poor rise to power, and characters who have been handcuffed to history struggle to break free and make their way in the world. Through it all, the lives of Saleem and Shiva are mysteriously intertwined. They are also inextricably linked to the history of India itself, which takes them on a whirlwind journey full of trials, triumphs and disasters.