This is an “own voices” book. A Burning was written by Megha Majumdar and published June 2020 by Knopf Books. Megha Majumdar was born in Kolkata, India and moved to the US to go to college. She’s an immigrant. In the book, the characters never immigrate to the US but they are all from the slums, I think in an area near Kolkata or Dhaka, Bangladesh.
I thought the book was great! It definitely gives someone from outside India insight into what it’s like to live in the slums of India. It was seen in the movies like Slumdog Millionaire (which I never saw) but not many in the US really know.
I love India. It’s one of my favorite places to go. I’m lucky enough that I’ve been to India four times. I was so sad not to go this year, as it had become a yearly trip. My last trip I took my mom with me, and other than the long travel, she loved it. The people, the culture, the traditions are all so wonderful. When I go I fly into Mumbai and then we drive to Pune. As you fly into the airport in Mumbai, you see the slums. You drive through them as you leave town. I’ve never taken pictures because I don’t feel like it is respectful to the people that live in those areas.
As I read A Burning, I could easily picture these areas in my mind’s eye. I’m so glad that people in the US are reading this book and Jenna Bush picked it as her June book club pick. I think it’s important for us to understand and be grateful for everything, including the freedom to post our opinions about government on social media. Something that not everyone has.
The story takes place from different points of view… Jivan, who makes the post and wakes up to a different life; Lovely, who Jivan use to teach English to and is an aspiring; and PT Sir, Jivan’s former teacher who becomes involved in one of the political parties. I thought it was great that Majumdar used different “voices” for each character. I know a lot of people complained but I thought it was great and fitting. Jivan spoke as she would with her education, same with Lovely, whereas PT Sir was written in the third person.
I know my mom and many others had to google unknown words to be able to follow along. I knew most of them from reading previous Indian books and from spending so much time in the country. I think most of the words were related to the different pieces of attire. The tunics, pants, scarves, dresses, etc.
I miss India. I miss my friends in India. I hope one day I can go back.
If you are interested in learning more about India and what life can be like there, I highly recommend this book. It’s great insight into the plight of people in another part of the world. Such a beautiful, heartbreaking book. I got my copy via my mom’s Book of the Month pick.
A good prompt to use this for for the Popsugar reading challenge would be a book written by a woman of color. Not sure what else. I’ll have to look and update the post.