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Check It Out: A Burning by Megha Majumdar

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This is Barb Gross with the Sioux City Public Library, and you’re listening to “Check it Out.” 

Today, I’m recommending A Burning by Megha Majumdar. This electrifying debut novel was nominated for a National Book Award and has been included on several “best of 2020 lists."

The story starts with a terrorist firebombing on a train in India. Facebook goes crazy with the news. Jivan, a Muslim woman from the slums, writes a careless comment on a post, saying the government is also responsible for the deaths. This innocent remark leads to Jivan’s wrongful arrest for engineering the attack.

Majumdar skillfully weaves the lives of two other characters into Jivan’s story. Lovely is a hijra who naively dreams of becoming a great actress. PT Sir is a gym teacher who discovers, quite by accident, that he has political ambitions. At first Lovely and PT Sir’s storylines seem disconnected to Jivan’s, but as the tale unfolds, we discover that they are on a collision course. In the end, A Burning is a story about moral courage – or lack of it – and its consequences.

A pointed review of the book in the Washington Post concludes: “And through it all, politicians demonize their opponents and promise that salvation is just one election away. Fortunately, all this takes place on the other side of the world and has nothing at all to do with us.”

Check out A Burning, and other critically acclaimed new fiction, at the Sioux City Public Library.

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Avery Brothers.