Book Reviews

Book Review: “The Burning” by Megha Majumdar

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Thank you @aaknopf & @shelf.awareness for my gifted copy of “A Burning” by Megha Majumdar! (pub date 6/2) (Click HERE to add the book to your Goodreads list.)

For readers of Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, & 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.

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, & finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan’s fall. Lovely–an irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice & dreams of glory fill the novel with warmth & hope & humor–has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything she holds dear.

Taut, symphonic, propulsive, & 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 as the components of a thriller: class, fate, corruption, justice, & what it feels like to face profound obstacles & yet nurture big dreams in a country spinning toward extremism.

An extraordinary debut.

**Everyone has a right to their opinion, but there are things you just can’t post on social media or any online forum, whether jokingly or not, without possibly being flagged as a terrorist by your government or invoking a visit to your home from the FBI, maybe even arrested. This story is about what happens when one young woman, Jivan, shares a video & posts a seemingly innocent comment on Facebook.

Set in present day India & told from 3 POV’s, there’s a reason this book was selected as a June BOTM. Click HERE to use my referral & join Book-of-the-Month & add this book to your first monthly box. (See one of my previous BOTM posts for all of the wonderful benefits to joining BOTM.)

Relevant, propulsive, positively captivating, & often witty, “The Burning” is an exceptionally well-written & thought-provoking, debut novel that you can zip through in a couple sittings. It’s just that good! Use to find this book & any others at a local, independent bookstore. Click HERE to find “A Burning“.

More editorial reviews of “The Burning“:

#1 Indie Next Pick for June

One of the most anticipated books of summer by the
Wall Street JournalEntertainment Weekly, Vogue, O, Elle, The Millions, Lit Hub

“Particularly relevant today… entertaining as well as intellectually serious… complex… nuanced… Captures the grainy specificity of life in India.”
The New York Times 

“In her captivating debut novel A Burning, Megha Majumdar presents a powerful corrective to the political narratives that have dominated in contemporary India.”

“Propulsive…ambitious…headlong…beautiful and supple…heartbreaking.”  
The Boston Globe

“Remarkable…Early buzz is already comparing A BURNING to the work of modern literary stars . . . but the voice—or voices—here are entirely Majumdar’s own.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Combines fast-paced plotting with the kind of atmospheric detail one might find in the work of Jhumpa Lahiri or Daniyal Mueenuddin. . . A highly compelling read”

““Majumdar’s explosive first novel is an intimate epic”

“A BURNING is an excellently crafted, utterly thrilling novel full of characters that I won’t soon forget.  Megha Majumdar writes about the ripple effects of our choices, the interconnectedness of our humanity, with striking beauty and clarity. A stunning debut.”
—Yaa Gyasi

“Polyphonic…Lovely is a particular gem…brilliant”  —Kirkus Reviews

“This is a novel of now: a beautifully constructed literary thriller from a rare and powerful new voice.”
—Colum McCann

MEGHA MAJUMDAR was born and raised in Kolkata, India. She moved to the United States to attend college at Harvard University, followed by graduate school in social anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. She works as an editor at Catapult, and lives in New York City. A Burning is her first book. Follow her on Twitter @MeghaMaj and Instagram @megha.maj

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