Karan Mahajan

Teoksen The Association of Small Bombs tekijä

6+ teosta 937 jäsentä 45 arvostelua

Tietoja tekijästä

Karan Mahajan grew up in New Delhi, India writing his first novel, Family Planning, which was a finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize. He wrote a second novel, The Association of Small Bombs, is a 2016 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction. (Bowker Author Biography)

Sisältää nimen: Karan K. Mahajan

Tekijän teokset

Associated Works

Granta 139: Best of Young American Novelists (2017) — Avustaja — 71 kappaletta
Stumbling and Raging (2005) — Avustaja — 22 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla


Kanoninen nimi
Mahajan, Karan
short-story writer
literary critic



Thirty-five more innocents slaughtered in an Istanbul nightclub and we haven't even climbed out of 2016 to usher in a cleaner, happier 2017. While the weapon of choice of the deranged in the US is a semi-automatic rifle, the eastern half of the world continues to live with small bombs, small in relation to a nuclear arsenal, but big enough to kill and scramble the lives of thousands.

By some weird coincidence, my wife and I complete two Netflix series: "Nobel" about Norwegian special ops forces in Afghanistan and "Fauda", an Israeli TV series set in the West Bank. I won't spoil the endings, or the beginnings, let's just say things don't turn out too well here either.

With this in the background I finish reading "The Association of Small Bombs," by Indian writer Karan Mahajan.

I am not spoiling anything to say that there are no heroes in Mahajan's novel. Not the bombers, nor the victims or their families or their government escape some satire in this novel. Nobody "recovers" from a bombing. Nobody "wins."

I have not been to New Delhi, to the scrum of the marketplaces where the bombings in this novel take place. Seen the garbage heaps, the open sewers, the polluted waterways. But this is most certainly the background for this novel. The steaming heat. The dirt. The outlying villages with garbage heaps, where men step outside their huts to piss.

Then there are the homes of the middle class where order and cleanliness push out the dirty reality, but the dirt and the rot are as much in the relationships of family members as physically in the streets.

In this environment, rich and poor, Muslim and Hindu fight for space. One would expect some envy of the rich by the poor, suspicion of the minority by the majority, and disgust in the top-dog for the underdog. So far we're on pretty recognizable ground.

Mahajan undoubtably knows that many of his readers are looking for answers to radicalism. Whose fault are these attacks? Are they to do with the unequal distribution of wealth; the destruction of the habitat; opposing views of religion; or maybe the accretion of centuries of mistrust and violence?

It seems that Mahajan's bomber is not radicalized by any one of these things, or maybe all of them. What is more clear is that his bomber is radicalized long before that radicalization turns him to violence. A radical for peace is just as radical for violence. And painfully, painfully, the bomber turns to violence after being spurned by his girlfriend for having bad breath.

Pornography, guilt over masturbation, delayed sexual gratification all of these have their role to play in the development of young men in the developing world in this novel. The themes of youth, the development of the self, more guilt over getting a living and gaining status in this complex world, the tension between competing world views of East vs. West.

To sort out these really hard. And organizing on a societal level to combat violence of this nature. Not easy. Government is weak. The family structure is weak. Our educational structures are nowhere to be found.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
MylesKesten | 42 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 23, 2024 |
This is the story of what happens to families when their children are killed and injured by bombs. But not just bombs-- the social and political climate that leads people to make bombs and set them off in public places, killing and injuring innocent people in the name of some kind of statement. This story starts with two families and a bomber, and throughout the tale some of the roles morph and reverse. "People become what they fear," someone says near the end, and that is the sentiment that encapsulates this story perfectly. This is the second book I've read recently about India, and it seems to be a place that seethes with despair and corruption. Probably there are everyday stories, everyday people too, but this book has the heights and depths.… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
karenchase | 42 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jun 14, 2023 |
Three boys visit a Delhi market. A bomb planted by Muslim activists goes off, and two of the boys - Hindus - are killed. The third boy Mansoor, a Muslim, survives.

Mahajan explores the aftermath of the bombing, knitting together a plot that spans the subsequent decades by looking at the impact on the victims' family, the survivor and his family and the terrorists. There is no attempt to define heroes and villains here; all are fallible humans whose experience is blighted by this single event.

A thoughtful and sensitive book.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
gjky | 42 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 9, 2023 |
I appreciated what this author attempted to do (and largely did successfully) with this novel, but unfortunately it didn't make for a fun reading experience. The book interweaves the stories of a victims of terrorism with perpetrators of terrorism without passing any moral judgements. We aren't even introduced the the character I would consider to be the main character, Ayub, until well into the story. He goes from being an activist to something more (a terrorist? a pawn of terrorists? ), but the author never permits the reader to lose empathy. Normally, I really like when author's do this and do it well, blurring the lines between good and evil, moral and immoral. The problem for me, with this book, was that it felt the the author narrated the story much more than revealed it. No matter how masterfully a writer does this, it just creates distance between the reader and the characters, and I never really felt their pain. Objectively, I should have cared a lot more, but honestly my end reaction was "well, those events were quite interesting" as if a friend just told me about a story he read in the news. I need more from a novel.… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
Anita_Pomerantz | 42 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Mar 23, 2023 |



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