A careless social media comment casts three characters into a web of violence, politics, and tragedy in India.
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Why I love it
Jenna Bush Hager
Co-host, TODAY with Hoda & Jenna
When I first read this devastatingly beautiful story, I was immediately struck by the author’s voice. Majumdar writes with the kind of sharp eloquence that makes it difficult to believe this slim novel is her debut. This is one of those sparse, carefully crafted books in which every word truly matters.
Set in contemporary India, this book tells the plight of three unique characters. There’s Jivan, a brilliant young Muslim girl living in the slums; Lovely, an exuberant aspiring actress; and PT Sir, a gym teacher with desperate aspirations for success. After a tragic terrorist attack, these characters find their lives entangled. Themes of fate and class, corruption and justice abound as A Burning poses the question: Who do we stand by when the worst happens? And what do we stand for?
Some people may question why I chose such a heartbreaking story at this time, but I’m thrilled to be helping to introduce such a powerful new voice! Majumdar’s book will transport you to an unknown destination this summer, even when the thought of travel seems impossible. I can’t wait for you to fall in love with the culture, not to mention the unforgettable characters, depicted in A Burning—just as I did.
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.