A Burning: The most electrifying debut of 2021
Description'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
‘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’ Times Literary Supplement
‘Melding political thriller with dreamy bildungsroman, this searing debut follows three characters in the aftermath of a devastating terrorattack. […] 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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