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#FridayReads: The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

Like so many of you, I’ve been struggling to understand the incredible acts of violence that have been happening over the past… I don’t know, decades? Decades. I’m in the middle of a ton of books right now but I needed something to help me understand, help me empathize and organize my emotions as they go from sad, to cynical, from devastated to angry. None of my usual books could help me understand. Sure, I had a ton of books on my shelf covering trauma but not this kind of trauma. The kind where, on one side we see the carnage of senseless violence, but on the other find the answers to our questions.

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I’m only 15% into The Association of Small Bombs but I needed to talk about this book. Full disclosure: I’ve been sitting on it for a little while now after Viking gifted me an ARC copy through NetGalley. I tried to read it once before but couldn’t get my head into the violence until this week. I needed to not feel so incredibly alone, and so incredibly distant, from yet another body count.

 

At first I thought that this book would be just from the family’s point of view, so that the reader would witness just the destruction left in the wake of a terrorist attack. As morbid as this sounds, this putting yourself back together story is insanely popular in American literature. We like to read about everyone’s lives falling apart and then lives put back together. What I didn’t expect was that we’d see parts of the book from the terrorist’s point of view. This might be a spoiler, but it’s also something I feel strongly about warning people if they, like me, are hoping to find understanding through reading.

I’m not done with the book yet, and I’ll have a better review then, but I just wanted to get the word out about this book now.

Here’s the summary on Amazon:

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.

I really can’t suggest this book enough — at least the beginning of it. I will be posting my review when I’m done with the book but right now I really feel like it’s a must read.

You can buy it now on Amazon or your favorite indie bookstore.

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