(Book Review / 感想) A Burning / Megha Majumdar

Megha Majumdar’s ‘A Burning’ was my first time reading a book set in contemporary India. I’ve visited the country twice in the past and loved experiencing its culture on both occasions. However, this book felt like it really took me to parts of Indian society I’d previously had very little knowledge or awareness about.

The story starts with a narrative by Jivan, who has been arrested for assisting with terrorist activity. She’s an ordinary girl who just happened to once post somewhat anti-government material on Facebook. This is later used as ‘evidence’ of her oppressive attitude, and the trigger for her involvement with terrorists. Her life in prison, her trials, as well as her former life with her parents before the arrest… all this is told by both Jivan herself and the other two main characters, Lovely – a transgender person who dreams of being an actress – and PT Sir – a teacher who taught Jivan in the past but is now the supporter of an up-and-coming political party. Their lives intertwine together to tell how Jivan has ultimately been made into a scapegoat within society.

Having finished the book, I was left uncertain – but wanting to know more – about how much of this story was really an accurate portrayal of poor, middle class and transgender individuals within India, as well as wider issues around the country’s legal system and the government’s stance towards its citizens. However, by bringing together three insightful characters and their storylines, this book definitely acts as a good entry point to lead the reader toward wanting to find out more about India and it’s many complex social issues.

インドは2回訪れたこともある国で、文化にすごく魅了された。この本は、私がまだあまり詳しくは知らなかった、インド社会の様子を垣間見ることができます。

主人公のJivan は、1度だけ投稿した反政府的なFacebookの内容を「証拠」であるとして、テロリスト容疑で逮捕されてしまう。彼女の刑務所での生活や、裁判、逮捕前の両親との生活… ストーリーはJivan と、トランスジェンダーで女優志望のLovely、学校の先生で政治活動に目覚めたPT Sirの3人の視点で語られ、社会がごく普通の少女をスケープゴートとしていく様子が描かれる。

正直なところ、この本がどのくらい、インドの正しい情報を元に書かれたものなのか、私にはまだわからない。インドという国の多様な社会問題に触れ、もっと知りたいと思う、きっかけになる1冊でした。

[AD – REVIEW COPY] I was provided a PR copy of this book by Kaleidoscopic Tours

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