Megha Majumdar’s debut novel, A Burning is an all-consuming story that rages along, bright and scalding, illuminating three intertwined lives in contemporary India. Megha demonstrates an uncanny ability to capture the vast scope of a tumultuous society by attending to the hopes and fears of people living on the margins.
The book is receiving so much love and critical acclaim. The novel was chosen for the Today Show book club and leaped immediately onto the bestseller list. Generous blurbs by Amitav Ghosh and Yaa Gyasi have lauded the book as a zeitgeist of our times; James Wood of The New Yorker remarked on its “extraordinary directness and openness to life” that lays out a patchwork of inequalities in which we might recognize the patterns of our communal lives.
A Burning is a quiet, searing study of the underclass and the aspiring middle class in India, whose tentative stake in the capitalist economy is complicated by the many tyrannies of gender, religion, and class endemic to society. It presents a society driven with influence peddling and abuses of power but still wholly devoted to the appearance of propriety. It’s a damning critique of a culture that generates constant upheaval but no systemic change. In Majumdar’s sharp telling, the courts are a spectacle of paid liars, the press trumpets an endless din of scandal, and the poor are routinely exploited. And through it all, politicians demonize their opponents and promise that salvation is just one election away.
You can read more about her book here.