“The best way to describe what he felt would be to say that first he was blind, then he could see everything. This is what it felt like to be a bomb. You were coiled up, majestic with blackness, unaware that the universe outside you existed, and then a wire snapped and ripped open your eyelids all the way around and you had a vision of the world that was 360 degrees, and everything in your purview was doomed by seeing.”
In The Association of Small Bombs, Karan Mahajan tells the tragic story of an innocent Indian man who survived a terrorist explosion.
In 1996, Tushar and Nakul Khurana went to a market with their friend Mansoor Ahmed when a bomb exploded.
The two brothers were killed, but Mansoor, although scarred, survived. The parents of the Khurana brothers never got over the death of their young boys, and Mansoor never got over the physical and psychological trauma left by the explosion.
Mahajan switches between characters, weaving in various perspectives, examining all the people who were left with the after the explosion in the market. Mahajan leads readers through Mansoor’s life, from being a boy in India to being a college student in America, and a lost adult back in India again. Mansoor must deal with the trauma of the explosion, but also the racism that is thrown his way as a Muslim. We also see the lives of the Khuranas since the death of their boys. Their marriage falters, they have another child whom they can’t seem to take care of, and they struggle to find meaning in their lives. We are even given the perspective of Shaukat “
We also see the lives of the Khuranas since the death of their boys. Their marriage falters, they have another child whom they can’t seem to take care of, and they struggle to find meaning in their lives. We are even given the perspective of Shaukat “Shockie” Guru, the man who planted the bomb at the marketplace.
Mahajan’s story starts with a “small” bomb going off, and the rest of the book is about the lives that were tied to this single event. It’s about the aftermath and it does not shy away from the real and relevant issues about terrorism and race. Mahajan presents a raw story that is heartbreaking from the start but will be sure to stay with readers long after the book has ended.
Read the book here.
About the Author Karan Mahajan
Karan Mahajan is an Indian-American author. The Association of Small Bombs is Mahajan’s second novel and was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award, and has received widespread acclaim.
Mahajan was born in Connecticut and grew up in India. He currently lives in Texas.
She is an avid reader, and never leaves for a trip without her kindle and a couple of books. She currently writes for her school's entertainment magazine and Flawless Mag.
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