Burnt Sugar

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Burnt Sugar, by Avni Doshi

In her youth, Tara was wild. She abandoned her arranged marriage to join an ashram, took a hapless artist for a lover, rebelled against every social expectation of a good Indian woman - all with her young child in tow. Years on, she is an old woman with a fading memory, 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 mother who never seemed to care for her.

This is a poisoned love story. But not between lovers - between mother and daughter. Sharp as a blade and laced with caustic wit, Burnt Sugar gradually untangles the knot of memory and myth that bind two women together, revealing the truth that lies beneath. Burnt Sugar was shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize in 2020.

'Beautifully written with startling imagery - emotionally wrenching and poignant in equal measure.' The Booker Prize Judges 2020


Age: Key Stage 4

Subject: English Language

Fiction Text: Burnt Sugar

Author: Avni Doshi

The four activities in this resource pack give KS4 students opportunities to engage with an unseen fiction text. They include activities for comprehension and critical analysis, structuring ideas and looking for descriptive and narrative techniques, using evidence. A practice GCSE English Language exam paper is also included, using an extract from the book. The resource pack can be downloaded below.

The activities in the resource pack are designed to be used alongside the videos below of author Avni Doshi, who reads aloud the extract and also talks briefly about the book to provide context.

The activities can be used as standalone activities, or used consecutively over the course of a lesson (approx. 1 hour 30 mins in total.)

Burnt Sugar
Burnt Sugar





A searing debut novel about mothers and daughters, obsession and betrayal - for fans of Jenny Offill, Deborah Levy, Rachel Cusk and Diana Evans

'Beautifully written, emotionally wrenching and poignant in equal measure' The Booker Prize Judges 2020

'An unsettling, sinewy debut, startling in its venom and disarming in its humour from the very first sentence' Guardian

'I would be lying if I said my mother's misery has never given me pleasure.'

This is a tale of obsession and betrayal. This is a poisoned love story. But not between lovers - between mother and daughter.

Tara and Antara, a woman and her angry shadow. But which one is which?

Sharp as a blade and compulsively readable, Burnt Sugar slowly untangles the knot of memory and rumour that binds two women together, revealing the truth that lies beneath.

'A work of extraordinary insight, courage and sophistication' Washington Post

'Arresting and fiercely intelligent, disarmingly witty and frank' Sunday Times

'A sly, slippery, often heartbreaking novel about the role memory plays within families' Stylist

'Extraordinary... Come for the effortlessly stylish writing, stay for the boiling wrath' Observer

What's included in the resource pack?

  • Avni Doshi context (video) 
  • Avni Doshi extract reading (video)
  • Activities powerpoint  (aimed towards younger KS4 students)
  • Text extract (pdf)
  • Mock exam paper questions (aimed towards older KS4 students)
  • Activity pack for exam technique (powerpoint)

How to use the pack

  • Get your students to watch the videos below with the author, before completing the corresponding activities and giving the students a copy of the text extract.
  • Some of the activities aimed at younger students, specifically Activity 2 and 3, will require students to have a copy of the text extract to work from.
  • Activity 1 and 4 could be carried out by just listening to author Avni Doshi reading the extract. The activity pack for exam technique is designed for older students to engage with prior to attempting the mock exam questions.   

Register your interest in receiving a free class set of the book

Email us at litincolour@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk with the name of your school, delivery address, number of students in the class and if you'd prefer physical copies or audiobook download codes. We'll see what we can do!

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Please note these resources contain videos so may take a few minutes to download

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