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Publisher's Summary

 A Today Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick

A New York Times Notable Book

For fans of Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, and Jhumpa Lahiri, an electrifying debut novel about three unforgettable characters who seek to rise - to the middle class, to political power, to fame in the movies - and find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary India.

In this National Book Award Longlist honoree and “gripping thriller with compassionate social commentary” (USA Today), Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, determined to move up in life, who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right-wing political party, and finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan's fall. Lovely - an irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice and dreams of glory fill the novel with warmth and hope and humor - has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything she holds dear. 

Taut, symphonic, propulsive, and riveting from its opening lines, A Burning has the force of an epic while being so masterfully compressed it can be listened to in a single sitting. Majumdar writes with dazzling assurance at a breakneck pace on complex themes that listened to here as the components of a thriller: class, fate, corruption, justice, and what it feels like to face profound obstacles and yet nurture big dreams in a country spinning toward extremism. An extraordinary debut. 

©2020 Megha Majumdar (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“This is a novel of now: a beautifully constructed literary thriller from a rare and powerful new voice.” (Colum McCann)

Featured Article: The Best Indian Authors to Listen to Right Now


"India," to quote actress and human rights activist Shabana Azmi, "is a country that lives in several centuries simultaneously." Just as those different time periods seem to coexist in one place, so do the voices of brilliant literary talents. Each of these writers and their works have contributed to help the world better understand this expansive country and its beautiful, multifaceted culture, whether it be from within India’s own borders or through the memory of its customs and traditions from distant continents.

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What listeners say about A Burning

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Heartbreaking and Brilliantly Performed

This story of a miscarriage of justice (for reasons of bias, political gain, personal fame, and financial ambition) is heartbreaking and enraging. You come to care deeply about Jivan, the Muslim girl living in poverty who is falsely accused of being a terrorist. Her plight drives the narrative, making it difficult to stop listening. Majumdar adds leavening in the form of Lovely, a hijra (transwoman) with dreams of becoming a movie star. The author's sympathies are never in question, but for the most part, she opts for psychological depth and subtlety. The novel makes the seductive powers of greed and corruption and the agonizing impotence of poverty palpable. A few things feel undeveloped, but it didn't spoil the power of the novel.

The novel is told in different voices, and the performances are truly flawless. The acting is subtle and exciting. I felt that listening to this enhanced the book in many ways. It was almost like listening to a thrilling radio play or podcast.

10 people found this helpful

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Powerful and disturbing and well-read

Wow. This was not at all what I expected and will stay with me for a very long time. And the performances were spectacular. I enjoyed every uncomfortable minute.

9 people found this helpful

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Enlightening

A beautifully written cultural novel set in India about the miscarriage of justice against a young woman based on her Facebook post. This novel is nothing like The Female of the Species but somehow this novel kept crossing my mind as I read A Burning.

Perhaps it is because both were stories I did not expect with strong female leads with a guttural ending. Neither are very dense reads but tackles a social issue and although light reads, are darkish.

Unlike The Female of the Species, the ending was swift so it did not pack the same punch to the chest. A Burning wasn't nearly as brutal...although I think if it had of been, it would make a 5 star read. Majumdar was right there...she just needed to get in there with a little more emotion to get that home run for me. Maybe let us get to the know the characters a little more before the drama started - just a few added pages was all that this story needed.

I would not suggest this book for the immature reader.

8 people found this helpful

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A Burning

This is a beautifully written and captivating story and the readers depicted their characters perfectly. The only thing that was missing for me, as a Muslim reader, is that the Muslims never prayed which most likely, during the characters’ times of trials and difficulties, they would have. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and how well it captures individual and group personalities as well as various aspects of culture and admire how it addresses tough issues. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

4 people found this helpful

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Brilliant first novel

A superb first novel told in voices which also make for a superb audiobook. My favorite so far this year!!!

3 people found this helpful

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Great storytelling!!!

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. From the characters, to the various plots within the story line-I loved it all!!I just wish there was a happier ending.

And kudos to the audible narrators!!! Their voices were rich and beautiful. It enriched the story!

2 people found this helpful

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riveting!

For a debut novel, the author has done a fabulous job. The narration is simple yet there is not a dull moment. The author takes the time for the characters to evolve.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent debut

This is a captivaring story. Lovely and PT Sir's characters were so well crafted, so real. The culture and political scenario of India so well brought to light. Perfect voices for the characters. You will not regret listening to this book.

1 person found this helpful

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What a tragedy-

Such a beautifully written and perfectly narrated story of selfishness and betrayal - I know this was fiction, but I hope the villains rot in Dante’s deepest circle...

1 person found this helpful

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Spectacular!!!

Loved everything about this audible book.
The narration was phenomenal and
the story was gripping.

1 person found this helpful