by Megha Majumbdar
Knopf. 288 pages, $25.95
THIS DEBUT NOVEL, Megha Majumbdar’s A Burning, is a moving indictment of nearly all of modern India’s institutions, from politics and the police to the educational system and even Bollywood. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the three main characters: Jivan, a young woman arrested for her alleged involvement in a train bombing; Lovely, a hijra (transgender person) trying to make it as an actress, tutored in English by Jivan; and PT Sir, a teacher at Jivan’s old school who gets involved in politics and proves instrumental in Jivan’s fate. Together, these voices demonstrate the ugliness of a beautiful country and the challenges that face those who dare to question its rules.
Charles Green, a frequent G&LR contributor, is a writer based in Annapolis, Maryland.