Indian-American author Karan Mahajan's second novel, The Association of Small Bombs, opens with a narrative about the detonation of a bomb in a New Delhi marketplace in 1996, by one of the protagonists, Shockie, a man from Kashmir. The bomb kills thirteen people and injures thirty more, and as the novel unfolds, we view the bombing and its aftermath from three perspectives; Shockie, the injured victims, and those who lost family members in the blast. Strangely, the bombing is not the climax of the novel at all, but the foundation and the plot deal predominantly with the consequences that affect both perpetrators and victims.
Mahajan was named Grant's Best Young American Novelist in 2017, having had this novel nominated for the National Book Award for Fiction the year before The book received widespread acclaim and the New York Times named it one of the ten best books of 2016. The book was particularly notable for the author's empathy with the victims of the bombing, and he drew on his childhood in New Delhi to immerse the reader in the impact that Shockie's actions had on the residents there.
Mahajan's approach to the novel is unique, and he can capture the psychological effects of terrorism in a way that is both powerful and thought-provoking. He is unafraid to delve into the darkness of the human psyche, which allows the reader to gain an understanding of the lives of the characters in a way that is both raw and honest. By weaving together the stories of the victims, the perpetrators, and those affected by the bomb, Mahajan can create a compelling narrative that allows for a deeper insight into the human experience.
The novel also serves as a reminder of the importance of understanding the complexities of terrorism, and the consequences of radicalism and extremism. Mahajan highlights the fact that there are no simple answers, and that the impact of terrorism can be far-reaching, affecting the lives of both the perpetrators and the victims. He also serves to remind us that the effects of terrorism extend beyond the physical and that there are emotional, psychological, and social ramifications as well. Ultimately, The Association of Small Bombs provides an emotional and thought-provoking exploration of the consequences of terrorism and its ripple effects on the lives of those involved.