Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan [in Libary Journal]
When a bomb explodes in a Delhi market in May 1996, the 11- and 13-year-old Khurana brothers, who were sent to pick up the family’s repaired television, are killed, while their friend Mansoor Ahmed, 12, somehow survives. The senseless tragedy inextricably binds the two families.
Mansoor tries to live as normal a life as he can, including a brief attempt at college in the United States, but the enduring pain of his childhood injuries is an unrelenting reminder of the senseless violence he, his family, and his nation endure. As a young adult, Mansoor’s involvement with an activist group places him in the midst of yet another horrifying explosion with unbearable, shocking consequences.
Delhi-born, Texas-based Karan Mahajan (Family Planning) writes with unblinking clarity, revealing an “association” of victims, survivors, planners, and perpetrators, all of whom are forever linked through a single explosion, each of whom he impeccably portrays with pathos and humanity. Narrator Neil Shah superbly voices the diverse perspectives, moving fluidly among accents, ages, genders, and experiences with grace and gravitas.
Verdict: For libraries fighting myopic xenophobia through remarkable literature, this Association awaits.