The Association of Small Bombs

Karan Mahajan. Viking, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-525-42963-0
The disintegration of the lives of both Hindus and Muslims affected by a bomb blast at Lajpat Market in Delhi in 1996 is the subject of Mahajan’s second novel (after Family Planning). In the aftermath of the violence we follow not only a Muslim boy who survives, Mansoor Ahmed, but his parents; the Hindu parents of Mansoor’s two friends killed in the blast; the bomb maker, named “Shockie”; and several activists who seek justice after the tragedy. The lives of Mansoor’s parents and the dead brothers’ mother and father unravel, their careers and marriages frayed by grief and anxiety. Mansoor tries to concentrate on his studies in the States, but returns to India and falls in with a charismatic activist called Ayub, soon to be unhinged by a breakup with his upper-class girlfriend. Mahajan’s talent is in conveying the sense that the world is gray, not black-and-white, and he accomplishes this by weaving together the evolving motives and passions of his characters so intricately that in the end we see each as culpable, and human. In his searing story, lives (and life itself) are subjected to close inspection and at times discombobulation. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/25/2016
Release date: 03/22/2016
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-14-310927-3
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