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Summary

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.

#KolabaganTrainAttack

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.    

©2020 Meghar Majumdar (P)2020 Simon & Schuster UK

What listeners say about A Burning

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Good read

It's a fine story that explores media influenced society and how it can change lives and cost them too. I preferred Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. For that immersion into India's societal attitude and a flavour of how life works there

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beautifully written

This book is closely observed and beautifully written. Lyrical text, well narated, a pleasure to listen to.

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Insightful

An insight into real lives, small scale corruption causing much bigger damage, and the winners and losers in it all. I particularly appreciated the window on transexual culture in India. A mesmerising tale.

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A tale for modern times

Not deeply intense but interesting story reflecting modern day India and personal ambitions with a sobering message.
Well written and excellently performed