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 she posted 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 depends on Jivan’s fall. Lovely—an irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice and dreams of Bollywood 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 strength of an epic while being so masterfully compressed that it can be read in a single sitting. Megha Majumdar writes with dazzling assurance at a breakneck pace on complex themes that read here as components of a thriller: class, fate, corruption, justice, and what it feels like to face profound obstacles and yet nurture aspirations in a country spinning toward extremism. An extraordinary debut that heralds the arrival of a tremendous new voice in contemporary fiction.