Date Published: June 2, 2020
Book Author: Megha Majumdar
Summary reviewed by:
Bachelor of Arts (BA), University Of California, Santa Barbara 2019
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A Burning: Summary
"A Burning" by Megha Majumdar: Your Heart will Never Beat the Same! The story begins in the bustling streets of Kolkata, India, where a confluence of dreams, despair, and dramatic societal upheavals take place. A horrific train station attack becomes the setting stone for a captivating tale of three intertwined destinies. Our protagonists are Jivan, a young, ambitious Muslim girl from the slums seeking a better life; Lovely, a vibrant hijra yearning for stardom against all societal norms; and PT Sir, an opportunistic schoolteacher embarking on a darkly political climb to power. Jivan, wrongfully accused of the attack due to a careless social media comment, finds her life spiraling into the judicial chaos of the Indian court system, entrapping her into the quagmire of injustice. Lovely and PT Sir are reluctantly tethered to Jivan's fate, navigating their dreams and ambitions amidst an unforgiving society.
Spoilers (click here to reveal spoilers)
A Burning: Genres
Social and Political Commentary
A Burning: Main Characters
Jivan: A youthful, determined Muslim girl from the slums, Jivan’s burning desire for a better life defines her. Her willingness to work long hours in a shopping mall, despite her circumstances, underscores her resilience.
PT Sir: A seemingly modest gym teacher who reveals his thirst for power and status, undermining his initial image of morality. His exploitation of Jivan’s situation to further his political ambitions perfectly encapsulates his transformative arc.
Lovely: A hijra with the heart of a performer, Lovely dreams of acting stardom despite societal prejudices. Her fervor to learn English from Jivan, despite ridicule and hardship, speaks volumes about her perseverance.
A Burning: Themes
Class Inequality: The stark contrast between Jivan’s struggle in the slums and the wealthier parts of Kolkata is a running theme. Jivan’s work in a mall while residing in a slum emphasizes this disparity.
Political Corruption: PT Sir’s journey into the heart of political machinery and his exploitation of Jivan’s predicament illustrate the rampant corruption.
Gender and Sexual Minorities: Lovely’s character portrays the challenges faced by the hijra community in India. Her fight for stardom against societal biases showcases this theme.
Justice and Injustice: Jivan’s wrongful accusation and the biased court proceedings highlight the theme of justice and its often harsh absence.