A Burning Book Summary - A Burning Book explained in key points

A Burning summary

Megha Majumdar

Brief summary

A Burning by Megha Majumdar is a thought-provoking novel set in contemporary India. Through the intertwined narratives of three characters, it explores themes of justice, ambition, and the power of social media in a society rife with inequality and corruption.

Give Feedback
Table of Contents

    A Burning
    Summary of key ideas

    Three Strikes at the Heart of India

    In A Burning by Megha Majumdar, the lives of three ordinary people in contemporary India become intertwined after a shocking act of terrorism. The story starts with Jivan, a young Muslim girl from Kolkata's slums who is falsely accused of executing a terrorist attack because of a naïve Facebook comment that seemingly supports the act. Incriminated by circumstantial evidence and the power of social media, Jivan is arrested by the police.

    Meanwhile, PT Sir, a gym teacher in a local school, seeking to climb the social ladder, becomes embroiled in right-wing politics. Choosing power over righteousness, he willingly becomes a key witness against Jivan, distorting facts about her character and activities. His political ambitions cloud his judgment, leading to devastating consequences.

    The Stand of an Aspiring Actress

    The other side of the story unveils Lovely, an ambitious hijra (transgender woman) who seeks to break away from societal biases and become a movie star. Lovely, who knows that Jivan is innocent because she was with her on the night of the attack, faces a dilemma. On one hand, she could provide an alibi for Jivan, but on the other hand, to do so would sabotage her fledgling acting career, which has just started to take off thanks to her language lessons from Jivan.

    When asked to testify, she succumbs to her aspirations, choosing silence over righteousness. This highlights the individual's plight when faced with a choice between personal ambitions and justice—a prevalent theme throughout the narrative.

    Fate and Injustice

    Back in the prison, Jivan, lovely, and PT Sir's interests intertwine, demonstrating the clashing forces of modern India—rights against power, freedom against corporatism, and above all, hope against desperation. As the narrative unfolds, Majumdar compellingly portrays the grim realities of a corrupt system, which, instead of executing justice, uses a disenfranchised girl as a scapegoat to appease public outrage following the terrorist attack.

    Despite appealing for justice in letters to journalists, newscasters, and non-government organizations, Jivan's plea falls on deaf ears. Local politics, prejudices, and the media machine collectively ensure Jivan's fate while protecting the politically well-connected guilty party.

    Tragic Resolution, Unfulfilled Dreams

    In the end, Jivan is declared guilty, sentenced to death, and executed, despite the belief of her innocence by those who knew her closely. PT Sir rises in the political ranks, achieving the social mobility he desired, but not without moral compromises. And while Lovely attains her dream of movie stardom, it comes at a heavy price: her silence and Jivan's life.

    Through A Burning, Majumdar depicts how damaging and destructive systemic bias and corruption can be, especially to the marginalized. She underscores the ironic tragedy of a system intended to empower the truth yet more often silences the voices of the innocent. The devastating finale serves as a harsh critique of present-day Indian society, leaving readers with a profound contemplation of justice, ambition, and personal ethics.

    Give Feedback
    How do we create content on this page?
    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is A Burning about?

    A Burning is a gripping novel that delves into the lives of three characters in contemporary India, whose fates become intertwined after a terrorist attack. Through their interconnected stories, the book explores themes of power, corruption, and the pursuit of justice in a society rife with inequality and political unrest. It is a thought-provoking and timely examination of the complexities of life in modern-day India.

    A Burning Review

    A Burning (2020) by Megha Majumdar is a thought-provoking novel that sheds light on the complexities of social and political injustice in contemporary India. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • The book delves into the lives of three characters, each dealing with different challenges and aspirations, offering a multi-dimensional portrayal of society.
    • Majumdar's narrative explores themes of ambition, loyalty, and sacrifice, creating a compelling and emotionally charged story.
    • Through vivid descriptions and realistic storytelling, the book brings attention to the power dynamics and inequalities prevalent in modern-day India.

    Who should read A Burning?

    • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking stories with multiple perspectives
    • People interested in exploring themes of justice, power, and social inequality
    • Book clubs looking for a fresh and impactful novel to discuss

    About the Author

    Megha Majumdar is an Indian-American author known for her debut novel, "A Burning." The book explores the intersecting lives of three characters in contemporary India, each striving for a better future in the face of societal and political challenges. Majumdar's writing has been praised for its powerful storytelling and incisive commentary on issues of class, corruption, and justice. "A Burning" has received widespread acclaim and has been featured on numerous bestseller lists. Majumdar's work showcases her talent for capturing the complexities of the human experience in a rapidly changing world.

    Categories with A Burning

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    A Burning FAQs 

    What is the main message of A Burning?

    The main message of A Burning is the pursuit of justice and the cost of speaking out in a deeply divided society.

    How long does it take to read A Burning?

    The reading time for A Burning varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is A Burning a good book? Is it worth reading?

    A Burning is a thought-provoking read that explores the complexities of justice and personal ambition in contemporary India.

    Who is the author of A Burning?

    The author of A Burning is Megha Majumdar.

    What to read after A Burning?

    If you're wondering what to read next after A Burning, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Coaching for Performance by Sir John Whitmore
    • Influence by Robert B. Cialdini
    • The Trust Edge# by David Horsager
    • The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto
    • Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
    • The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo
    • Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
    • You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen
    • Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
    • Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff