With a dream debut, Megha Majumdar’s novel A Burning has climbed up the western bestseller lists. The book covers a lot of hot topics that the publishing industry classifies as a ‘contemporary India novel.’
What appealed to me most about the book was the character development. Jivan, Lovely and PT Sir are characters that will stay with me for a long time. They are familiar, yet unique in their approach to life. Determined to move up in their lives, each of them has to live with the consequences of their actions. Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums who is accused of a terrorist attack because of a hasty comment she makes on Facebook. PT Sir’s simple life as a gym teacher changes when he gets involved with a political party. I loved Lovely’s humorous narration in present continuous tense.
With her unpretentious prose, Megha has created characters whose decisive actions propel them on a journey to become pawns in the hands of people with power.
Here are a couple of quotes about the importance of characters in a book:
The one common thread in all of the books that are falling apart on my shelf? Characters—flawed ones with desires and needs who spend most of the story tripping over their weaknesses in an effort to get what they want.
— Becca Puglisi, quote from Getting to the Core of Character Motivation
Personality plays a large role in how a characters sounds. Their voice will reflect that personality and color every line of dialog and internal thought.
— Janice Hardy, quote from How to Write Characters Who Don’t Sound Like You