Tuesday, May 4, 2021

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about A Burning by Megha Majumdar for the past year, so I recommended it for the Rogue Book Club pick for April.  We read it and met to discuss it a few weeks ago.  We met in person for the first time in forever as everyone is now fully vaccinated.  I was the sole person not complete with the series as everyone else is a teacher or nurse in the club and was higher up on the list!

 A terrorist attack on a train in India has killed over one hundred people.  The police focus in on Jivan, a Muslim girl that lives in the slums after she posts an ill-thought-out remark on Facebook.  As Jivan is arrested, her story is told through her viewpoint and two other viewpoints - PT Sir and Lovely.  PT Sir was Jivan’s gym teacher but finds himself rising in a political party by helping to cause Jivan’s downfall.  Lovely is a hijra and dreams of becoming a Bollywood star.  Jivan was teaching her how to read and Lovely is her alibi.  If Lovely comes forward, how will that affect her career?  As the three lives intertwine, will the truth come out?

 I was not sure what a hijra was when I started this book and I had to look it up.  It’s “in the West, she would likely identify as a transgender woman, but in India she falls into a category of the gender ambiguous who earn a living by begging and giving blessings at weddings.” (From Chicago Review of Books).  I thought Lovely’s story was very intriguing as I had not previously read anything about hijra and how they function in Indian society.  It was also an interesting discussion point at our book club.  The story was choppy and not a happy one, but it was very interesting how the story set in a different country parallels what is happening in the United States currently.  We saw parallels both with the treatment of Transgender people and in the justice system. I read Just Mercy last year and I felt like the treatment of Jivan in this book was unfortunately the treatment that many people of color receive in the United States. 

 Favorite Quote:

“It is true that there is a lot about life that the law misses.”

 Overall, A Burning is a great read about justice and corruption in modern day India that parallels current events in the United States.

 Book Source:  Borrowed from the Kewaunee Public Library – Thank-you!


  1. Laura, this book does sound interesting. I think I'd learn a lot about modern day India if I were to read it. Wonderful, concise review!

    India has been on my mind a lot lately due to the COVID crisis they are facing now.

  2. You can write volumes about the treatment of anyone that is "different" in Asia.