A Burning: The most electrifying debut of 2021
'Immaculately constructed, acidly observed and gripping from start to finish, A Burning is a brilliant debut.' The Guardian
'Megha Majumdar's A Burning is an uncanny debut, a fierce condemnation of modern India - the corruption, racism, misogyny, the feverish obsession with celebrity - this is the antithesis of shrill. The author, although still in her early thirties, has the composure of a mature artist, and has produced a political novel that makes its wider points through the subtle, intimate exploration of three characters' lives.' Sunday Times
'This is a short, sharp shock of a novel that shows us how easy it is to rally a mob, to kill a Muslim woman and to silence a whole community. These are things we all know on paper, but the power of a great novelist - and Majumdar has a Dickensian flair and scope - is to transform what we simply know into something we can feel. What a treat to start the year with a talent as fresh as this' - The Times
'A big hit in America last year, this buzzy debut about the impact of a terrorist attack in a Kolkata slum on three connected characters is full of hot-button global topics, including violent nationalism.' Metro
'Powerful. [...] Majumdar's page-turning thriller seeks to open our eyes to the role of persecution in populist politics' - Mail on Sunday
'An evocative insight into class, corruption, injustice and power dynamics, this poignant tale makes for memorable reading' Cosmopolitan
'Majumdar conjures up three notably effervescent, intense voices' Daily Telegraph
'Astonishing [...] a novel of exceptional vision and craft. It offers a memorable portrait of Kolkata, a deeply moving human story, and provocative reflections on our times' T imes Literary Supplement
'Melding political thriller with dreamy bildungsroman, this searing debut follows three characters in the aftermath of a devastating terror attack. [...] An unflinching take on corruption and its consequences' i Newspaper
' A brilliant character study about politics and power, this assured debut moves at a thriller's pace but with a meticulous eye for detail.' Nikesh Shukla
'A Burning is a political thriller so charged and tense, it will keep you reading after lights out.' Red Magazine
A girl walks through the slums of Kolkata holding an armful of books. She returns home smelling of smoke, and checks her most prized possession: a brand-new smartphone, purchased in instalments. On Facebook, there is only one conversation.
On the small, glowing screen, she types a dangerous thing...
' If the police didn't help ordinary people like you and me, if the police watched them die, doesn't that mean that the government is also a terrorist?'
Set in contemporary India, A Burning is the story of three unforgettable characters, all dreaming of a better future, whose lives are changed for ever when they become caught up in the devastating aftermath of a terrorist attack.
Jivan - a poor, young, Muslim girl, who dreams of going to college - faces a possible death sentence after being accused of collaborating with the terrorists.
Lovely - an exuberant hijra who longs to be a Bollywood star - holds the alibi that can set Jivan free, but telling the truth will cost her everything she holds dear.
PT Sir - an opportunistic gym teacher who once taught Jivan - becomes involved with Hindu nationalist politics and his own ascent is soon inextricably linked to Jivan's fall.
Taut, propulsive and electrifying, from its opening lines to its astonishing finale, A Burning confronts issues of class, fate, prejudice and corruption with a Dickensian sense of injustice, and asks us to consider what it means to nurture big ambitions in a country hurtling towards political extremism.
A Burning is a novel for our times and for all time.
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