WellRead’s August 2020 selection was A Burning by Megha Majumdar. If we can give you any advice when reading A Burning, it’s to not rush through it. The creative force of this novel is found in its subtle detail and the ways in which the three plot lines converge with devastating and complex inevitability.
Use these discussion questions to engage with the book further, whether in a book club with friends, or just on your own as you digest the story.
Reading questions for A Burning by Megha Majumdar:
Precisely how many times did you cry reading the book?
Do you agree/disagree with Jivan’s comment that “if the police watched them die, doesn’t that mean that the government is also a terrorist”?
Consider the above quote in reference to police brutality in the US, Australia and the rest of the world. Many reviews of the book have noted parallels between Hindu nationalism and white supremacy. Did this occur to you while reading the novel?
In an interview, Majumdar said that in India the English language “holds such baggage...It is, of course, the language of the coloniser”. How does she explore this in the book?
- The novel portrays social media as both a tool for activism as well as a means of repression. Where do you sit on the scale?
There are two interstitial chapters that are written from the vantage point of Jivan’s mother and father. Why do you think the author chose to include these scenes?
- Perhaps above all else, the novel is a meditation on issues of power. How does the obtainment of power alter the evolution (and even fate) of each character?
Please note, these questions were written and distributed in August, 2020.