Posted on Leave a comment

A History of Burning, by Janika Oza

Review copy provided by the publisher.

This is a gorgeous family saga, the kind of book that gives you a hundred years of one family, following from one generation to another including in-laws (but not friends/peripheral characters as POV). It’s about an Indian family that immigrates to Uganda while both are still under British rule, and…the twentieth century plays out from there, the Partition, independence for both regions, the rise of Idi Amin, another round of immigration (hello, Toronto!), all of it. It is harrowing but not only harrowing; it is heartbreaking but not only heartbreaking. There’s joy, there’s hope, there’s camaraderie, there’s all the emotions of family and community life.

I don’t want to say “one doesn’t often see” because perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps there are loads of books about this and my white American self has just not found them. But. I don’t often see books that are about the fraught ground that comes of being a colonized people that is then part of colonization for another people. And that complexity is beautifully handled here–the characters have a wide range of reactions to each other, and being someone we care about does not mean that you’re necessarily right about any one thing–or that rightness is achievable in your circumstances. These characters are all doing the best they can, but their bests vary wildly–as people do.

This is a warm and rich and compelling book, and I’m so glad that it’s coming soon so the rest of you can read it too. Read it when you’re in a place to deal with difficult things, but absolutely read it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *