A girl walks through the slums of Kolkata holding an armful of books. She returns home smelling of smoke, and checks her most prized possession: a brand-new smartphone, purchased in instalments. On Facebook, there is only one conversation.#KolabaganTrainAttackOn the small, glowing screen, she types a dangerous thingâ€¦â€˜If the police didnâ€™t help ordinary people like you and me, if the police watched them die, doesnâ€™t that mean that the government is also a terrorist?â€™Set in contemporary India, A Burning is the story of three unforgettable characters, all dreaming of a better future, whose lives are changed for ever when they become caught up in the devastating aftermath of a terrorist attack. Jivan â€“ a poor, young, Muslim girl, who dreams of going to college â€“ faces a possible death sentence after being accused of collaborating with the terrorists.Lovely â€“ an exuberant hijra who longs to be a Bollywood star â€“ holds the alibi that can set Jivan free, but telling the truth will cost her everything she holds dear.PT Sir â€“ an opportunistic gym teacher who once taught Jivan â€“ becomes involved with Hindu nationalist politics and his own ascent is soon inextricably linked to Jivanâ€™s fall.Taut, propulsive and electrifying, from its opening lines to its astonishing finale, A Burning confronts issues of class, fate, prejudice and corruption with a Dickensian sense of injustice, and asks us to consider what it means to nurture big ambitions in a country hurtling towards political extremism.A Burning is a novel for our times and for all time.
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