February is upon us, and with a new month comes a new book! Our book club pick for this month is A Burning, a novel by author Megha Majumdar. Full disclosure, it's February 6 and I've already finished the book (it's that good), so I'm going to try to introduce it to you without spilling my feelings too much!
Majumdar, born and raised in Kolkata, India, moved to the US to attend Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University. A Burning, her first novel, has received overwhelming critical acclaim, and for good reason: it's fantastic. The story follows three characters: Jivan, a young Muslim woman falsely accused of terrorism, PT Sir, a schoolteacher vying his way toward a life in politics, and Lovely, a hijra (a member of the Indian trans community) and an aspiring actress. The lives of Jivan, PT Sir and Lovely become intertwined as they reach upward - Jivan, from the depths of poverty and imprisonment toward freedom in the middle class, PT Sir, from the middle class to the upper echelons of political society, and Lovely, from outcast to center stage.
Majumdar is incredibly skilled at crafting a narrative that is exciting, heartbreaking, humorous and thought-provoking. Her ability to entertain the reader with brilliant writing while bringing up such weighty subjects as institutionalized poverty, injustice and religious discrimination is impressive, and I'm confident you'll be just as engrossed as I was.
Happy reading, and hope you're all staying healthy!
*Cover image from WAMC.