Schimelpfenig Library staff member Jelita shares her recent review of Megha Majumdar’s A Burning.
Megha Majumdar’s enthralling debut novel A Burning is set in Kolkata, India, and opens in the immediate aftermath of a horrific attack. Terrorists have firebombed a train, leaving more than 100 people dead. Jivan, a young Muslim slum dweller, scrolls through commentary on social media and makes a fateful post, setting into motion a series of events that she is powerless to control. The story is told from the viewpoint of three main characters. In addition to Jivan, there is Lovely, an aspiring actress who is also part of India’s hijra, or transgender, community. The third voice is that of PT Sir, Jivan’s former teacher, who is drawn into right-wing nationalist politics.
The three strands of the story manage to cover a vast amount of territory–class, politics, gender, sectarianism, the role of the media–in just under 300 pages. Longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award, A Burning is a densely packed, beautifully written book that makes us confront universal questions about the nature of truth and the price of compromise. For an added bonus, check the eAudiobook, whose wonderful narrators bring these complicated characters to life.
And if you enjoy this book, try one of these ‘read-alike’ novels:
There There by Tommy Orange
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Looking for something to read? Check out these lists:
All lists tagged Plano Reads
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Cook the Book cookbook recommendations