In Megha Majumbar s debut novel A Burning we meet three characters Jivan,, PT Sir and Lovely who are placed in difficult circumstances and will have to navigate them Set in India, we meet Jivan , a Muslim girl who grew up poor and is living in a slum She received a scholarship and is able to attend school and learn English she had to cut her education short to work to help pay for her father s high medical bills Jivan s life is hard, it is struggle after struggle and she just cannot seem to catch a break One evening, after returning from work she makes a carless Facebook post and is instantly charged and thrown in jail for being a conspirator in a bombing PT Sir is a teacher at an all girl s school that Jivan once attended His life is predictable and as a Physical Education teacher he does not get much respect from his peers or the students One evening, with a train delay he finds himself at a rally for a right wing political party he is inspired and wants to do than just exists PT Sir finds himself doing things to gain power and access to this political party Lovely is an outcast, her dream is to become an actress on the big screens With the help of Jivan tutoring Lovely is able to learn a bit of English which she uses when reading scripts Lovely attends acting classes and is at the top of her class, but she cannot seem to get a leading role When one of her acting clips went viral, she is offered a major role in exchange for her allegiance.Majumbar s debut novel offers a fresh look into Indian, with characters who are colourful and jumping off the pages It is a story about friendship, justice, poverty and how power corrupts I could not get enough of PT Sir and Lovely s story line, it was beyond interesting The plot was not predictive, and I appreciated that, I did not see the ending coming and I appreciate the author for not taking the clich route A great debut novel set in India from a fresh new voice What I learned in reading this book I learned unless what is being hung is a person, in the case the word is hanged This was a story and cast of characters that made my head spin in the best kind of way This book was absolutely phenomenal and I cannot stop thinking about their fates and the thematic discussions this brought up about contemporary India I will keep this review spoiler free, but needless to say the complexity and unraveling of details across these three narratives was so brilliantly rendered in this debut The narrative is told in alternating perspectives between three people, and we follow each of their trajectories and connections to a terrorist attack on a train in the opening scene Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, and after a careless comment on Facebook finds herself accused of a crime she did not commit She had been spending time volunteering and teaching Lovely, an aspiring actress from a marginalized group We also hear the story told from PT Sir s perspective he is a former teacher of Jivan who aspires to political glory of sorts within a right wing political party.What I was most blown away by was how full circle so many thematic discussions were, most notably around privilege and class, and also the complexities of social media and censorship in India specifically The characters were written with such depth and as a reader I ebbed between feeling empathy and disappointment at so many points in the narrative Their decisions and influence on each other s trajectories are flawed and never straight forward or predictable The pace of the story, particularly in the second half of the book, had my heart in my mouth and I found myself racing through the pages needing to know where Majumdar would take these characters Needless to say, this left my mind reeling and my thoughts racing, all signs of an exceptional read for me Easily one of the most compelling and moving narratives I have read this year.Many thanks to Knopf for a review copy. 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 IndiaJivan 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 DearTaut, 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 My heart is broken into 1000 pieces I cannot wait to champion this book closer to pub date Pre order please Review to come in June 2020. This book gutted me As I was reading, I could see it going in that direction but that didn t stop the feeling that overcame me as I finished.Let me first say that this book was written by a friend of mine but it would have been something I d have on my to read list regardless The story brings together several characters whose lives intersect after one big event Majumdar writes from each of their perspectives and I thought she did such a great job of giving each a unique voice I especially thought she brought Lovely to life really well I could actually see her in front of my eyes.I also thought that Majumdar took the current political and cultural situation in India and illuminated it so well through this one particular story of a poor Muslim woman and how her one small action spiraled out of control.Unsurprisingly, everything that happened in this story made me so angry The relentless corruption, the constant of each person only looking out for number one, no matter the consequences, unending toil and drudgery for the smallest scraps Needless to say, the story was realistic and left me devastated.Note Thanks to Knopf for providing an advanced reader s copy in exchange for an honest review. A Burning was a bright and emphatic debut novel by a talented writer who crafted a circus like novel and she played all the parts with ease The ringleader of the eye opening tale of class representation, government corruption, the unfair prison system and systematic patriarchy where women aren t seen as equal, sounds pretty relevant to the climate in American right now huh Well Megha Majumdar s novel takes place in India, furthering her development of a story that isn t so often spoken of She uses her ability to mold and juggle the narrative of three diverse and unique characters like a true professional, putting her razor sharp ability on full display, and ironically enough at the end of the show we the reader, are the ones left feeling like we just swallowed a sword..Jivan is a 22 year old Muslim woman who upon a series of events and comments online is falsely accused of a terrorist attack that kills over 100 people, she is imprisoned and held on trial for the deaths of these civilians PT Sir was Jivan s gym teacher years before who gets caught up in the corrupt world of politics and politicians use him as a pawn in their game and he willingly becomes a puppet for the horrible political party Lovely my absolute favorite character is a Hijara who in India is a person who identifies as neither male nor female but is typically born male and dresses as a woman they are also an aspiring actress trying to make it big on the screen but struggles due to the misrepresentation of their gender neutrality Lovely was also being taught English by Jivan and can be an alibi for her and absolve her of this crime they are saying she committed..Majumdar created this tragic and compelling story that somehow reads with the pace of a thriller but has depth of literary classics Extremely character driven as these three tell their stories and intersect and intertwine in and out of each others lives, A Burning is a book I feel will awaken your eyes and soul to a community not everyone Is familiar with, but at the exact same time one we know all too well, and I think that was the true magic trick, the tightrope walk, the disappearing act to end this clever and stunning novel that paraded in and out of my life within the course of a mere three days A book that will be at the forefront of the literary world in 2020 once it is released in June. So, I started this book with great excitement After all, it is on all lists, and one of the major releases of 2020 It started off slow I wasn t invested in the characters or the plot This is just me being honest about what I felt while reading it Till, I reached about 100 pages and that s when the book started working for me That is exactly when I think I became invested and hurt and felt joy with the characters The book speaks to me as an Indian, of what is going on in the country It speaks to me of the injustice It speaks to me about how the government is by intent isolating a community and targeting it, and encouraging people to kill and instigate riots The riots that took place in Delhi in February 2020 and some part of early March is testimony to that A Burning speaks about all of that hidden albeit and A Burning is not just the story of three people and the people connected to them It is the story of all of us of humanity in that sense and the decisions we make basis greed, selfishness, aspirations, and dreams At the heart of the story is a train that is burned, and its aftermath Jivan, a Muslim girl from the slums determined to move up in life, is accused of executing the attack on the train because of a comment on Facebook against the government this is so true given the times we live in and the BJP IT Cell of the country There is PT Sir a teacher of physical training in an all girls school, an opportunistic individual who somehow gets a way in the right wing party and has aspirations of his own The third is Lovely, an outcast a person who lives on the margins of society and dreams of becoming an actress The book is about their lives intersecting, and ultimately revealing each motivation, each aspiration, and each form of personal escape A Burning hit hard It of course made me see what is happening which I already knew and also how most of the time we are so apathetic to it, as long as our bubble of privilege, influence, and dreams does not burst Majumdar s writing is simple, detailed, and makes you think think of how we ignore, turning a blind eye, and most of all the act of submission even in the times of barbaric acts being committed in the name of religion Megha Majumdar builds beautifully on each character their lives, their tragedies, the day to day living, and the complexity of emotions At one point, the PT Sir does have a change of heart momentarily and then doesn t There is always this push and pull between what one does for greater good and what one does for self A Burning is a book of human beings who are lost, are a bundle of contradictions, and a book of our times It shows us the mirror in than one way The setting though is in West of Bengal, it could be any Indian city, town, or village The emotion is universal of hate, forgiveness, love, redemption, and sometimes a very slight sliver of hope. An infectious, propulsive read set in modern day India driven by the story of a young woman falsely accused of an act of terrorism A major debut. A wonderfully plotted, ambitious debut novel by a writer with a lot to offer, the story of 3 lives intersecting around a single, harrowing lie Majumdar takes major risks with a multi perspective, voice driven novel whose politics often occur in the background, but her excellent plotting abilities kept me flying through this. It all starts simply enough an idealistic young Muslim girl uses her very first costly device with her own salary, a SmartPhone, to join in the conversation on Facebook A vicious train attack by terrorists has just taken place and right afterwards, she posts an ill advised comment.With that propulsive opening, A Burning ignites a firestorm that asks searing questions Whose future is it How far are we willing to go to take our place into a better life be it political status, artistic fame, or simply a way out of crushing poverty Would we sacrifice others for our own ambitions Narrated primarily by a trio of original characters Jovan, the girl at the crux of the book Lovely, a hijra trans who has acting aspirations and whom Jovan has tutored and PR Sir, her former gym teacher who will do anything to gain pollical clout with a right wing party.In telling her story, Megha Majumdar touches upon a smorgasbord of topics that inform many conversations today the effect of income disparities, the results of nationalism gone awry, the miscarriage of justice, the ethical lapses of the press and the sinister side of social media, and the systemic corruption that feeds all of it.Wry, unsettling, and poignant, A Burning deserves the great advance buzz it is getting I am so grateful to Alfred A Knopf Publisher for providing me with an advance reader copy in exchange for a definitely honest review.