Your Friendly Blogger reviews a burning

” A Burning ” book written by Megha Majumdar

Author Megha Majumdar, a Kolkata native who came to the U.S. to study at Harvard and now works in publishing in New York City.

A Muslim girl, high on the freedoms of her new smartphone, joins a Facebook chat about a local train-station bombing. “And then, in the small, glowing screen, I wrote a foolish thing. I wrote a dangerous thing, a thing nobody like me should ever think, let alone write.”

In that brief moment of social-media-empowered outrage, is to accuse the government of mishandling the crisis; the punishment will far exceed it. The consequences of that act reverberate outward in Megha Majumdar’s awesome debut, a multicoloured portrait of contemporary India told through a wildly divergent chorus of characters.

In this book the story revolves maily on three main players: Jivan, raised to expect no rise in station beyond the slums she was born into but still determined to elevate herself through a job at Pantaloons, where she hopes one day to become a senior sales clerk; her onetime teacher PT Sir, a man chafing at the drudgery of coursework and the confines his own small life until he discovers that he may have a new niche in state politics; and transgender Lovely, who seizes an opportunity to leave her lowly status behind for the dream of Bollywood stardom.

Their loose connections will blend closely and grow tighter throughout a narrative that often feels as cinematic experience: a rush of brightly textured prose that reads sometimes as pointed satire, and other times as pure tragedy.

More resonant than the book’s sometimes incomplete strands of the plot, though, is the immediacy of her characters; their hopes and fears and ordinary dreams. , Megha handles the writing so neatly, slowly building toward a climax that feels both shocking and certain to happen.

Catch Me Here

Sandeep Madhavan
London, UK