An accused terrorist, an aspiring actress, and a P.E. teacher... Three narratives so incongruous they could serve as the setup for a joke instead intertwine to form this compelling literary debut. With powerful (and timely) social commentary, empathetic character development, and a propulsive plot, A Burning does not disappoint. I held out hope for every hopeless character, and marveled at Majumdar’s skill — I can’t wait to see what else she has in store. Recommended By Tove H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
For readers of Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, and Jhumpa Lahiri, an electrifying debut novel about three unforgettable characters who seek to rise — to the middle class, to political power, to fame in the movies — and find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary India.
Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, determined to move up in life, who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right-wing political party, and finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan's fall. Lovely — an irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice and dreams of glory fill the novel with warmth and hope and humor — has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything she holds dear.
Taut, symphonic, propulsive, and riveting from its opening lines, A Burning has the force of an epic while being so masterfully compressed it can be read in a single sitting. Majumdar writes with dazzling assurance at a breakneck pace on complex themes that read here as the components of a thriller: class, fate, corruption, justice, and what it feels like to face profound obstacles and yet nurture big dreams in a country spinning toward extremism. An extraordinary debut.
"...Majumdar presents an
electrifying debut that serves as a barometer measuring the seeming
triviality of human life and the fragility of human connections." Booklist (Starred Review)
"...intricately layered subplots expanding on themes of class,
religious tension and discrimination toward India's transgender
community. Majumdar is a phenomenal new
voice posing a daring question: Can Indian society as it exists today
ever be impartial?" Shahina Piyarali, writer and reviewer, Shelf Awareness
"Polyphonic...Lovely is a particular gem...brilliant" Kirkus Reviews
"Megha Majumdar's soon-to-be published A Burning is the best debut novel I have come across in a long time. Somehow Majumdar succeeds in capturing the boundless energy and starry-eyed hopefulness of the country's youth. A Burning signals the arrival of a new voice of immense talent and promise." Amitav Ghosh
"This is a novel of now: a beautifully constructed literary thriller from a rare and powerful new voice." Colum McCann
About the Author
Megha Majumdar was born and raised in Kolkata, India. She moved to the United States to attend college at Harvard University, followed by graduate school in social anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. She works as an editor at Catapult, and lives in New York City. A Burning is her first book. Follow her on Twitter @MeghaMaj and Instagram @megha.maj