A Burning by Megha Majumdar [in Booklist]
For the first time in her young life, Jivan has her own cellphone, which she bought with money earned by working as a shopgirl, having left high school after barely passing her tenth-form exams. After witnessing a gruesome train-station attack during her 15-minute walk home to the slums, she continues to follow events on Facebook. And then Jivan does “a foolish thing … a dangerous thing, immaturely hoping to multiply her ‘likes’ by responding to a post: if the police watched them die, . . . doesn’t that mean that the government is also a terrorist?”
Days later, Jivan has been beaten and jailed, accused of terrorism, effectively condemned without a trial. The two people who could possibly save her – a trans woman to whom Jivan was attempting to teach English, and her former PE teacher, who recognized her athletic prowess – have other priorities: dreams of film stardom for Lovely, a political future for PT Sir. Still holding on to her innocence, Jivan entrusts her story to a hungry journalist. Salvation seems possible, even narrowly so, over and over again, until it’s not.
Kolkata-born and Harvard- and Johns Hopkins–educated book editor Megha Majumdar presents an electrifying debut that serves as a barometer measuring the seeming triviality of human life and the fragility of human connections.