- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Viking (March 22, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525429638
- ISBN-13: 978-0525429630
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 175 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #573,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Association of Small Bombs: A Novel Hardcover – March 22, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Just as the author describes a market in Delhi, this novel "begins everywhere at once." Readers are immediately thrown into urban India, piecing together the important players of this drama. Mahajan begins the novel by describing a singular, almost routine event of 1996: a car bomb in a crowded Delhi marketplace. In the years that follow, the lives of a survivor, the family of two deceased boys, and the bombers themselves become intertwined. For the most part, the story takes place in India, and readers could easily become bogged down with unfamiliar terminology in the first third of the book. However, the narrative begins to pick up speed when Mansoor, the bomb survivor and a Muslim, leaves India to pursue his education in the United States. He returns to his homeland because of medical concerns complicated by his injuries from the bombing. Teens will be interested in the change Mansoor undergoes after his return to Dehli and intrigued by the human side of both the bombers and those affected by this act of violence. VERDICT Purchase where there is a demand for titles set in India or an interest in antiheroes.—Krystina Kelley, Belle Valley School, Belleville, IL
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
Simpson Family Literary Prize Finalist
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.
Top customer reviews
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At the beginning of the story we are introduced to two families. On the day the children head to town to pick up a TV from a repair shop, all three boys become victims of a bomb explosion. One of the families loses both of their sons to the attack. The other boy survives with a few minor physical injuries.
The author zooms in and out to transition from one perspective to another, and writes about the effects this attack had on different people throughout many years after the bomb explosion. He concentrates as well on the growing hate between Hindu and Muslim people in India, and the tragedies suffered by Muslims in the country, especially post 9/11 attack on WTC.
Mahajan skilfully paints the picture of grief, a mother’s wish for revenge, the methods of coping with the loss of a child, and the psychological effects terrorist attack has on the survivors. He shows also how lack of understanding from others, and the difficulty one finds to belong, can cause drastic ideological shifts.
Although the book was not my first choice and it took me almost 1 year to pick it up from my book shelf after buying it, I am glad I did. I felt that the author rushed a little bit at the last chapters and cut the story short leaving me hungry for more, but in all fairness it may be because I wanted for it to last a little bit longer.
In the current worldwide chaos caused by the militant groups, and civilians and politicians response to the attacks, this is not a book I would recommend to anyone. It is a story about fanaticism and terrorism, however the author did not demonize or dehumanize any of the characters. Personally I liked that he remained neutral even when writing about the attackers, but I do realize some people could not appreciate it.
If you are seeking for a book that explores religious and sociological reasons of why people act and behave in certain ways, this is your book. If you are open minded and interested in gaining a 360-degree view on terrorist attacks, this is your book.
To me it earned a spot on the shelf of books I will read again in the future.
On the other hand he has tried to take up too many thorny subjects such as terrorism,politics,Hindu-Muslim disharmony etc. Naming contemporary politicians is a mistake. The description of post death grieving is obviously contrived.
Nevertheless the author has talent and one hopes he will come up something bigger and better next time around.