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A Burning by Megha Majumdar

September 16, 2020 in Book Reviews
A Burning by Megha Majumdar - Book Review

AD • I received a copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and opinions are entirely my own.

Why hello! It’s time for another book review and today I’m going to be talking about A Burning by Megha Majumdar. It’s part literary fiction, part political thriller which isn’t my usual choice but I’d heard such great things about this book that I had to read it for myself. So I did exactly that and here’s what I thought…

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster UK and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

A Burning
by Megha Majumdar

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Date of Publication: 21st January 2021
Genre: Literary Fiction
Format: eBook (320 pages)
Rating: ★★★★

Content & Trigger Warnings

Transphobia, sexual assault, murder, lynching, death by burning, death by hanging, graphic violence, surgery trauma

 

Summary

Set in a contemporary India, A Burning shows the aftermath of a terrorist attack that took the lives of over 100 people. It centres around the perspectives of three characters; Jivan – a young Muslim woman who has become the scapegoat for the attack, Lovely – a hijra who aspires to be a movie star and PT Sir, a PE teacher who is about to find himself drawn to political extremism.

 

My Review

A Burning is an apt title for this book. It begins with hundreds dying in a blaze – but it’s more than that. The tension in this book simmers before eventually boiling over. At the start, I had sympathy and hope. By the end, I was just angry.

What I loved most about A Burning is how it throws all these questions of morality at you disguised as the way characters act, react and are treated. Questions like:

  • Is saying nothing as bad as telling a lie?
  • Do we have a responsibility to each other?
  • Can we ever truly know anyone beyond our own experience of them?
  • Are we complicit in a crime if we stand back and say nothing?
  • Would we sacrifice our ambitions to do the right thing?
  • Is capital punishment ever justified?

It comes across as a bleak and brutal piece of fiction but it’s super important to recognise the dangers of social media and corruption. While I did thoroughly enjoy A Burning, I wouldn’t recommend it to readers who are sensitive to graphic violence. (There’s one scene in particular that I suspect will traumatise me forever.)


Highlights

  • Political thriller set in India
  • Diverse characters (race, religion, class, sexuality)
  • Multiple POVs
  • Will make you question your own morality


Read This If You…

  • Like character-driven literary fiction
  • Enjoy thinking about morality
  • Have concerns about social media and its impact


Favourite Quote

Many years ago I would have been asking why is this happening? But now I am knowing that there is no use asking these questions. In life, many things are happening for no reason at all.

Thank you so much for stopping by to read my review of A Burning by Megha Majumdar. Will you be adding A Burning to your TBR? Let me know in the comments below.

Hayley @ Cosy Chapters

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Hayley

I'm Hayley (she/her) and I'm more than a little bit bookish. Cosy Chapters is where I share all things book-related plus the occasional post about the cosy lifestyle. When I'm not reading, you'll find me spending time with my little family, rewatching sitcoms, planning the now somewhat elusive trip to Disneyland Paris and losing entire days playing ACNH.

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23 Comments

  • Cherry Living September 16, 2020 at 10:31 am

    Wow seems interesting! I’m gonna check it out during my free time. Thanks for sharing x

    • Hayley September 16, 2020 at 10:40 am

      Thank you, hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  • Stephanie @ Bookfever September 16, 2020 at 10:33 am

    Ooooh you had me with “Political thriller set in India” I’ve never read one set in India but I am super intrigues now!

    • Hayley September 16, 2020 at 10:41 am

      It’s a really compelling story, I hope you enjoy it Stephanie! 🙂

  • Tasha September 16, 2020 at 11:24 am

    I am always looking for new book so I really appreciate an honest book review! thank you for sharing

    • Hayley September 19, 2020 at 9:28 am

      Thanks Tasha! 🙂

  • Jenny in Neverland September 16, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    I wouldn’t usually opt for political themed books but this sounds great and your review has really piqued my interest. I don’t think I’ve been away of any book quite like this before.

    • Hayley September 19, 2020 at 9:27 am

      Thanks Jenny, I agree – not something that I’d normally read but it piqued my interest too!

  • Lucy September 16, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    This seems like a really interesting story! It sounds really intriguing! x

    • Hayley September 19, 2020 at 9:27 am

      It really is! Thanks Lucy! 🙂

  • Sarah September 16, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    This sounds like quite an interesting read. I hadn’t heard of this book before. I have only read a couple of books set in India so it would be nice to have an opportunity to read some more. I will have to add this one to my to-read list.

    • Hayley September 22, 2020 at 12:51 pm

      Thanks Sarah, hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  • Savannah September 16, 2020 at 7:45 pm

    Great review! I love your format and feel compelled by all of your points to check out this book. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Hayley September 22, 2020 at 12:51 pm

      Thank you so much Savannah! 🙂

  • Jaya Avendel September 16, 2020 at 9:14 pm

    I love a book that turns me inside out and reinforces my thought that we learn better about the world through reading stories then we do from news. So interesting also, that I am writing a poem about hijras!
    Thank you for sharing a brutal and important read.

    • Hayley September 22, 2020 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks Jaya! Ooh that’s an interesting coincidence. I’d never even heard of hijras before starting A Burning and I must have just been oblivious because hijras have come up so many times since then in other things I’ve read in print or online, in the news… Just goes to show that reading really does open our eyes!

  • Britt K September 17, 2020 at 4:19 am

    This sounds interesting but at the same time, I’m not sure that I’m ready for something so serious. That being said, I think it’s important that we open the conversation about the potential risks of social media and it’s impact on society. Thank you for sharing!

    • Hayley September 22, 2020 at 12:48 pm

      I hear you! I don’t think I realised going in quite how heavy it was going to be. Still a very good read. 🙂

  • Laura Pettenuzzo September 17, 2020 at 9:18 am

    Love the structure of this review, especially the dot pointed lists!!

    • Hayley September 22, 2020 at 12:47 pm

      Thank you so much, I really appreciate your feedback! 🙂

  • […] Genre: Literary FictionSource: ARCMy Rating: ★★★★REVIEW: A Burning by Megha Majumdar […]

  • Saloni Miglani September 28, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    I know I’m a little late to this one, but I trust your book reviews to the point where I ‘need to read what Hayley thinks’ before I consider starting a particular book (if you’ve read it, of course)! Think this will be my next read due to its message and setting – need to learn more about India now that I live here!

    • Hayley September 29, 2020 at 2:25 pm

      Oh Saloni, you have no idea how much that means to me. Thank you so much! I’d love to read more fiction set in India or by authors from India so if you have any recommendations, please let me know. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the book!

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    Welcome to Cosy Chapters!

    I'm Hayley (she/her) and I'm more than a little bit bookish.

    Cosy Chapters is where I share all things book-related plus the occasional post about the cosy lifestyle.

    When I'm not reading, you'll find me spending time with my little family, rewatching sitcoms, planning the now somewhat elusive trip to Disneyland Paris and losing entire days playing ACNH.

    Follow Cosy Chapters on WordPress.com

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