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.
“A Burning tells the all-too-believable story of Javin, a teen-age girl in India who has left school, despite being an excellent student, to get a job and help her struggling family. After a comment against the government on facebook, she is accused of a crime she didn’t commit, largely because she is a Muslim. Her story is the central of three comprising the novel. PT Sir is Javin’s physical education teacher who, largely through chance, becomes involved with the leading nationalist political party. And Lovely is a trans woman aspiring to be a film star whom Jivan is tutoring in English. As Jivan’s arrest and trial unfold, the stories of all three characters develop in alternating chapters told from each of their points of view. This novel is not only a compelling tale of each of the characters’ lives and the impact of PT Sir’s and Lovely’s actions on Jivan’s fate, but it is a critical examination of nationalism in India today – and thus a cautionary tale about nationalist extremism anywhere in the world.”Nancy, Raven Book Store
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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.
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