The Association of Small Bombs

The Association of Small Bombs

Book - 2016
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National Book Award Finalist
Winner of the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award
Winner of the American Academy of Arts & Letters Rosenthal Family Foundation Award
Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award
Winner of the Bard Fiction Prize
One of the New York Times Book Review 's Ten Best Books of the Year
One of Granta 's Best Young American Novelists
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of the Year
PEN Center USA Literary Award Finalist for Fiction
Shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature
Longlisted for the FT/Oppenheimer Emerging Voices Award

Named a Best Book of the Year by: Buzzfeed, Esquire, New York magazine, The Huffington Post , The Guardian , The AV Club , The Fader , Redbook , Electric Literature , Book Riot , Bustle , Good magazine , PureWow , and PopSugar

"Wonderful. . . . Smart, devastating, unpredictable. . . . I suggest you go out and buy this one. Post haste." --Fiona Maazel, The New York Times Book Review

"Brilliant." --Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

"[Mahajan's] eagerness to go at the bomb from every angle suggests a voracious approach to fiction-making." -- The New Yorker

For readers of Mohsin Hamid, Dave Eggers, Arundhati Roy, and Teju Cole, The Association of Small Bombs is an expansive and deeply humane novel that is at once groundbreaking in its empathy, dazzling in its acuity, and ambitious in scope

When brothers Tushar and Nakul Khurana, two Delhi schoolboys, pick up their family's television set at a repair shop with their friend Mansoor Ahmed one day in 1996, disaster strikes without warning. A bomb--one of the many "small" bombs that go off seemingly unheralded across the world--detonates in the Delhi marketplace, instantly claiming the lives of the Khurana boys, to the devastation of their parents. Mansoor survives, bearing the physical and psychological effects of the bomb. After a brief stint at university in America, Mansoor returns to Delhi, where his life becomes entangled with the mysterious and charismatic Ayub, a fearless young activist whose own allegiances and beliefs are more malleable than Mansoor could imagine. Woven among the story of the Khuranas and the Ahmeds is the gripping tale of Shockie, a Kashmiri bomb maker who has forsaken his own life for the independence of his homeland.

Karan Mahajan writes brilliantly about the effects of terrorism on victims and perpetrators, proving himself to be one of the most provocative and dynamic novelists of his generation.

Publisher: New York : Viking, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780525429630
Branch Call Number: FIC Mahaj
Characteristics: 276 pages ; 24 cm


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Nov 28, 2017

This novel was much lauded in the US (NYT Book Review, The New Yorker, etc.) but much less enthusiastically reviewed in the UK and elsewhere. Personally, I found it very disappointing. Mahajan's idea is good - to examine the aftermath of a bombing in a Delhi market in 1996 in terms of its impact on the parents of two children who were killed and on a friend who was with them and his family. The description of domestic life was good, but the characters involved with the bombing and subsequent actions were unconvincing. They seemed American. Their motivation, not religious, but not well explained, remained a mystery. Overall, Mahajan provided little context and no insight. The novel was disappointing and very American in its sensibility and focus on the individual.

Apr 23, 2017

Timely second novel by Indian-American writer Karan Mahajan. It starts with an explosion in a Dehli market that kills two brothers and follows one of the survivors and one of his friends, who is drawn into a terrorist organization. It's an engaging, of the moment story, but I had trouble getting into it, perhaps because Mahajan's structure feels a bit erratic and the characters never quite came alive. But for those looking for political writing that tries to make sense of the world, this is worth checking out. I'd also recommend "The Reluctant Fundamentalist."

Mar 26, 2017

Many Americans think that tragedy only happens to us. I was on a trip to India when a woman I was with was going on about how Americans have suffered because of terror. Luckily, the Indian man we were with let her know loud and clear that Americans have been lucky. Did I enjoy this book? No, but it sure made me think. I had no idea that the current Indian prime minister was connected with violence against Muslims. What captured my attention in this book was the way the author, not only looked at the Muslims who set of the small bombs, but gave the perspective of a person who was hurt in a bombing as well as parents who lost 2 middle school boys to a bombing. The ending of course reflects the sorrow spread throughout all the connecting stories in the book.

Mar 10, 2017

it was good but the characters got caught in own web of destruction.

Oct 22, 2016

An amazing book by a major writer. Blows so many stereotypes—about India, terrorism, Hindu/Muslim divides—all with surprising humanity, wit and compassion. A young writer, Mahajan is someone to read and watch. Found myself thinking about its characters and situations long after reading. For a comparison with The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien:

Sep 30, 2016

Love this from Library Journal - For libraries fighting myopic xenophobia through remarkable literature, this 'Association' awaits.

Jul 26, 2016

a paint-by-number story with an ending that ties up all the loose ends - some pleasantly poetic passages, however

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