What’s There For Readers In Megha’s Debut Novel “A Burning”

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Megha Majumdar is currently the talk of the town. Her debut novel “A Burning” portrays a distinct sketch of urban India, with the strings of terrorism as the backdrop. It has attained immediate success and encouraging reviews from almost every reader.

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s why it should be on your TBR!

A young protagonist from the slums of Kolkata

Jivan is Majumdar’s unfortunate protagonist. She is a small girl living in the Kolkata slums. True to the novel’s name, she feels enraged when she witnesses a group of terrorists set a train on fire. Hundreds of people die in the scalding fire. Also, in the idea of receiving a lot of likes, she shares the ghastly crime on her Facebook profile.

It just took some while, until Jivan realized it was the most dreadful thing to do. Her post becomes a piece of evidence when the poor girl is about to be held for judicial interrogation. What happens next forms the crux of the edge-of-the-seat plot.

International Acclaim

Honestly, very few debut novels by Indian authors strive to create such international impact. Her book has been on most of the charts of new releases around the world. She offers a nuanced understanding of the political and social functioning of the country in her debut novel.

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An exploration of precarity in all its forms, Megha Majumdar's debut novel, "A Burning," tours how a young woman’s reaction on social media to a terrorist act seals her fate beneath the power of the state. In her enthusiastic review, the National Book Award-winning novelist Susan Choi sets the scene: "A train briefly halts in a station, and flaming torches are thrown in through the windows — which are large enough to admit the torches but too small to allow the passengers to escape. Scores burn to death. Who committed this horrific mass murder? Our almost-witness, Jivan, doesn’t know. Though she lives in the slum that borders the station, and happened to be in the station that night, ‘all I saw,’ she narrates, ‘were carriages, burning, their doors locked from the outside and dangerously hot.’” + In setting the scene for the art, the illustrator @emilianoponzi proposed showing the fire from the train's interior, forcing us to be in there with the anonymous victims, and placing Jivan out of reach, on the other side of the glass, helplessly watching — echoing her helplessness in the novel. The rhyming is uncanny.

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Multiple voices

The author has not placed the entire action on the protagonist. There is an array of other characters such as P.T Sir and Lovely who add their contributions to the plot. The author has carefully handled the religious aspects of the story. She has made sure not to put anyone on a higher pedestal.
Crafting a story with multiple voices is an art. Majumdar has done a great job by giving every component its place in the book.

Talks about most of the burning issue in India

The gripping leitmotifs such as injustice, gender roles, caste, religion, class division, etc. make the plot stronger. The author succeeds in examining these themes in depth.

The book talks about how we, as citizens, are apathetic towards social issues. Overall, it takes the form of a realistic mirror, showcasing some hard-hitting truths.

This book is a must-read because it is bold. Also, it is swift and intriguing.

So, when are you picking this one?

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