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Book Review – A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Facebook. Even a decade ago this word would have elicited raised eyebrows as response. But thanks to the digital revolution, it has now become a household name. It is here that we keep in touch with friends and family, binge on funny videos, connect with strangers, and vent out our feelings.

Imagine, if you were sent to jail for a post on Facebook? Sounds dystopian? Well, that’s the theme of this pacy thriller penned by debutante author Megha Majumdar.

Hailed by the media in America as the next Jhumpa Lahiri, Megha Majumdar paints a world we are too familiar with. Nothing is out of the ordinary here. We come across a girl living in a slum, who works at a fashion retail shop to support her family. We become acquainted with a transgender, who aspires to become an actress. Then there is the PT teacher at a school, who wants to break free from the mundane existence.

A Burning is a breezy read

And then, there is the society we all live in. Here, destitute citizens are pushed to the brink for ‘development’, women are forced to buy groceries in the dead of the night to save money, doctors do not feel the urgency to attend to a patient because he is from the lowest rungs of the society, a boy belonging to the lower echelons has to pay entry fee at a posh mall.

This is a society where a religious minority is killed on the suspicion of eating a particular meat, where the onus of proving innocence is on the accused, not the prosecutor, where judgments are passed to satisfy the collective conscience of the people, the media is only looking for headlines and politicians eye just the votes.

We are all familiar with this society. Then why does Megha Majumdar’s book feel dystopian? Because truth is always stranger than fiction, and we choose to believe we live in a fantasy world of ‘good days’ than face the reality. Megha hits the nail on the coffin of ‘reality’ hard, with the sharp satire and ruthless portrayal of plain happenstance.

As one reads through the pages, the sorrow-state of affairs in our la-la land becomes more and more acute. Images from the past haunt you, make you feel guilty – of being the silent majority. ‘A Burning’ is an indictment of not the government or the ‘system’. It is a document of rebuke – because we have allowed the country to descent into madness, systematically.

Jivan – the protagonist – could be any of us. It could be Sudha Bhardwaj, it could be Safoora Zargar. It could also be Afzal Guru. Or Dhananjay Chatterjee. Faces change. Contexts change. The story remains the same. We begin by empathising with Jivan, but choose to emulate PT Sir in our lives. Megha’s brilliance lies in capturing this convenience. ‘A Burning’ reminds us that we all are the ‘ghosts of the future’.

My rating: 4/5 stars

70th Primetime Emmy – My predictions

It’s that time of the year again. Come Monday, we will get to know which of our favourite American shows take home the coveted Emmys. There is a diverse mix of shows and actors nominated this year for the Emmy.


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There are our usual favourites like ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘The Crown’ or ‘Stranger Things’ or even ‘Westworld’. Some actors like Julia Louis Dreyfus have not been nominated this year. And there is a whole lot of new shows that have been nominated; ‘Barry’ for example.

Here are my predictions of the winners who will take home the Emmy this year (names marked in bold). The predictions are for only those categories, which interest me. Do share your feedback, if you agree (or disagree) with my choices. Let’s see how many correct predictions I make.

My choices are based on personal liking, as well as trends over the years.

Drama Series

“The Handmaid’s Tale”
“Game of Thrones”
“This Is Us”
“The Crown”
“The Americans”
“Stranger Things”

Comedy Series

“Atlanta” (FX)
“Barry” (HBO)
“Black-ish” (ABC)
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)
“GLOW” (Netflix)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
“Silicon Valley” (HBO)
“The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)

Limited Series

“The Alienist”
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”
“Genius: Picasso”
“Patrick Melrose”

Lead Actor in a Drama Series:

Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)
Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”)
Ed Harris (“Westworld”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)
Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”)
Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”)

Lead Actress in a Drama Series:

Claire Foy (“The Crown”)
Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)
Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”)

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:

Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
Bill Hader (“Barry”)
Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)
William H. Macy (“Shameless”)
Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”)
Ted Danson (“The Good Place”)

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:

Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”)
Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”)
Allison Janney (“Mom”)
Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”)
Issa Rae (“Insecure”)

Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie:

Antonio Banderas (“Genius: Picasso”)
Darren Criss (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Benedict Cumberbatch (“Patrick Melrose”)
Jeff Daniels (“The Looming Tower”)
John Legend (“Jesus Christ Superstar”)
Jesse Plemons (“USS Callister”)

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie:

Laura Dern (“The Tale”)
Jessica Biel (“The Sinner”)
Michelle Dockery (“Godless”)
Edie Falco (“The Menendez Murders”)
Regina King (“Seven Seconds”)
Sarah Paulson (“American Horror Story: Cult”)

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”)
Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”)
Joseph Fiennes (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
David Harbour (“Stranger Things”)
Mandy Patinkin (“Homeland”)
Matt Smith (“The Crown”)

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Alexis Bledel (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”)
Ann Dowd (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones”)
Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown”)
Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)
Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Louie Anderson (“Baskets”)
Alec Baldwin (“Saturday Night Live”)
Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”)
Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta”)
Tony Shalhoub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”)
Henry Winkler (“Barry”)

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Zazie Beetz (“Atlanta”)
Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Aidy Bryant (“Saturday Night Live”)
Betty Gilpin (“GLOW”)
Leslie Jones (“Saturday Night Live”)
Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”)
Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne”)
Megan Mullally (“Will & Grace”)

Reality Competition

“The Amazing Race”
“American Ninja Warrior”
“Project Runway”
“RuPaul’s Drag Race”
“Top Chef”
“The Voice”

Variety Sketch Series

“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
“Portlandia” (IFC)
“Drunk History” (Comedy Central)
“Tracey Ullman’s Show” (HBO)
“At Home with Amy Sedaris” (TruTV)
“I Love You, America” (Hulu)

Variety Talk Series

“The Daily Show With Trevor Noah”
“Full Frontal With Samantha Bee”
“Jimmy Kimmel Live”
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
“Late Late Show with James Corden
“Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

Television Movie

“Fahrenheit 451” (HBO)
“Flint” (Lifetime)
“Paterno” (HBO)
“The Tale” (HBO)
“Black Mirror: USS Callister” (Netflix)


P.S. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter. This is my fifth post.

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