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Burnt Sugar

Narrated by: Vineeta Rishi
Length: 7 hrs and 29 mins
3.7 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

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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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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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 .

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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 ❤

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  • Nomad Design
  • 30-09-2020

I adored this book

A heartwarming and heartbreaking book. The characters have depth and I like the way it pings back and forth in time to keep the reader informed. I fell in love with India a little more. A brilliant read!

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  • Sonia
  • 30-09-2020

Very blahhhh

Defo not a page turner, as soon as something interesting starts to happen it goes straight back to being pointless, would definately have given up on it if I was reading it as paperback

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  • Manda N
  • 26-09-2020

A debut that feels like too much is packed into it

I’m not convinced this should win the Booker Prize this year. It’s a pretty good read however I didn’t feel anything particularly for the characters and there were too many sidelines to the relationship between the main mum and daughter protagonists. It got confusing and I couldn’t figure out if there was some kind of point to it all. It’s not a read I’m rushing out to recommend to everyone as I have done with it’s Booker competitor Shuggie Bain. Maybe it would resonate more on a second read.