By Megha MajumdarReleased :10 /10/2020Reviewed : 30/10/2020Reviewed by : Mona AimolA Burning is an all-consuming story that sketches the complexity of societies with sophistication. The story lays its pillars on three protagonists whose lives are intertwined with events that throw readers at the face of the fragility of moral courage displaying the potential for the smallest act that can alter the course of somebody else’s existence.
Megha Majumdar, a new and urgent voice in Indian contemporary narrates the story from the perspective of one character to the next, each of whom, by dint of status or sensibility, knows something the others cannot. The narrative brings us a glimpse into the extraordinary moments in ordinary, vulnerable lives and the interludes in between give us a clearer picture of the structural forces that are at play. From the beginning of the book we learn that nothing comes out of criticising the Government or any of its institutions and of course, these events are very much relevant in the present day. It exposes the hideous nature of politics and power, the paid liars just to have an upper hand.
The writer has very well crafted the vast tumultuous society by attending to the hopes and fears of people living in the margins. The portrayal of a populist politician and the pawn in the propaganda machine was very much appropriate. Selective readers may not find anything they don’t already know but it will still make them feel and think. In a country like India, where caste system still prevails and one is under the weight of systematic oppression, an individual is made to feel nothing more than an insect like one of the protagonist states in the book.
The book has also received its share of criticism where we find journalists denying the situations that have been portrayed. To be blunt, the story would have been different had the protagonists been of a higher caste or an affluent family. But one needs to keep in mind that while a story that feels so true is being told, but is also clearly a work of fiction. And may be this proves that the press is only looking to trumpet endless scandals, veil the truth because they need to sell the story. While politicians succeed in generating constant upheaval but fail to bring systematic change, the poor are often routinely exploited by the politics and the system and are often promised that their salvation is just an election away.

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