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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2020

A searing debut novel about mothers and daughters, obsession and betrayal - for fans of Jenny Offill's Weather, Deborah Levy's Hot Milk and Diana Evans' Ordinary People.

In her youth, Tara was wild. She abandoned her loveless marriage to join an ashram, endured a brief stint as a beggar (mostly to spite her affluent parents) and spent years chasing after a dishevelled, homeless 'artist' - all with her young child in tow. Now she is forgetting things, mixing up her maid's wages and leaving the gas on all night, and her grown-up daughter is faced with the task of caring for a woman who never cared for her.  

This is a love story and a story about betrayal. But not between lovers - between mother and daughter. Sharp as a blade and laced with caustic wit, Burnt Sugar unpicks the slippery cords of memory and myth that bind two women together and hold them apart. 

©2020 Avni Doshi (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Taut, unsettling, ferocious." (Fatima Bhutto, author of The Runaways)

"Acerbic, full of wit and cool intelligence - every sentence is a coiled spring and each psychological portrait burns itself into the mind. I couldn't put it down." (Olivia Sudjic, author of Exposure and Sympathy)

"Crystalline, surgical, compulsively readable. An examination of toxic relationships and the ties that bind us." (Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti)

What listeners say about Burnt Sugar

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    2 out of 5 stars

Depressing, leads nowhere

While the writing is evocative and the characters complex, nothing happens. No self actualisation, surprise, redemption, hope - nothing. I found it depressing. The main character is unlikeable and neurotic and most of the book is her bitching about everyone in her life.

4 people found this helpful

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Intriguing and thoughtful

This story is an excellent example of description and mental illness through an Indian woman’s eyes. I have listened to this book 3 weeks ago and I am still thinking about it. Her story of Neglect, love and sanity is very unique and compelling.

2 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

very disappointed to listen to the whole book only to hear the story just fizzling out with no proper ending

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nicole Del Sesto
  • 21-08-2020

Weird weird Booker year

This book is compared to Hot Milk, and for me the only comparison is that there is a strained mother/daughter relationship. This one was strained in ways I really cannot imagine. The writing was very good. Sometimes clever, sometimes excellent. The story was sometimes interesting and sometimes not. The characters were mostly unrelatable to me. Sometimes it was cultural, and sometimes it was decision making. Aside from some superb passages, reading this wasn’t an enjoyable experience.

2 people found this helpful

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  • TheRealMrsB
  • 16-09-2020

I didn't enjoy it

I struggled to listen to this book but I carried on until the end hoping it would get better. It did not.
Many times I fell asleep and had to go back and listen to chapters again.
I did not feel a connection with any of the characters, including the woman telling the story. The book was about this woman and her mother, but all the other key relationships and events in her life were glossed over. Then the book suddenly ended, with no real climax or conclusion. To be honest this was both a relief and a disappointment.
The narration was OK, but I did have to slow it down a bit as I felt it was slightly too fast at its original speed.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-09-2020

ok

I couldn't really get into this book I am surprised it is shortlisted for the Booker ,for me there was little in it that was orginal .

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • mr r tomlinson
  • 29-08-2020

breathtaking

What a beautiful and painful journey . as an Indian women I found it relatable and so poignant. I can't recommend it enough ❤

3 people found this helpful

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  • bookylady
  • 08-04-2021

Disappointing

I’m not sure what to say about this one. It has been nominated for various prestigious book prizes but I cannot fathom why. It is a dull, plodding story about a toxic mother-daughter relationship, toxic marriages, failing careers, alternative lifestyles and the effects of dementia on the sufferer and their carers. It is hard to think of anything positive about this book.

I kept going with the story, even though it was lacklustre and hard to engage with. I nearly gave up but kept hoping that something would happen to grab my attention; it didn’t. My main problem was that every character had fatal character flaws; they were selfish, unreliable, unlikeable with barely a redeeming feature between them.

The narration was not brilliant; the narrator’s voice was a bit too bland, lacking in contrast and variety.

Sorry I couldn’t give it a better review.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Paris Camatchee
  • 20-01-2021

flat from start the finish

has high hopes for this book but the story was flat, the narrators attempts at an American accent and the ability to perform multiple characters we awkward and cringworthy and irritating

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-04-2021

A poetic book beautifully performed

This is a meditation on memory it's function and also just through an accident of Birth family can have the potential to destroy you from the inside out rather than nurture.

This book is set in semi rural India and tells the story of a dysfunctional mother daughter relationship and how a diagnosis of dementia shifts the dynamic.

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  • Avidreader
  • 30-03-2021

Where's the interest?

I was bored all the way through. Only finished it hoping for something interesting to happen.

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  • Apple Smith
  • 07-03-2021

Great narrator/performance but plot just drones on and on

Interesting enough metaphors & imagery, textured characters although none were very engaging; main issue is the approach of threading it all together in an endless string of increasingly uninteresting scenes with seemingly very little to do with each other.

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  • Ms. Lh t
  • 09-02-2021

Loved the story and the narration

This is a beautiful and harrowing story of the ambivalence in motherhood and art and illness. It was beautifully narrated . Sad , sweet , honest and scary . I liked that in the voice of Antara you could love and be slightly repulsed by the same person .

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  • author, author
  • 11-12-2020

Boring.

Boring. Some ok writing in places, but hardly uplifting. Few if any sympathetic characters a d too many issues left undeveloped.

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