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. What follows is an exploration of radicalization, politics, and religion.
“The Association of Small Bombs, is wonderful. It is smart, devastating, unpredictable and enviably adept in its handling of tragedy and its fallout. If you enjoy novels that happily disrupt traditional narratives — about grief, death, violence, politics — I suggest you go out and buy this one.
Some writers are quick to weave common threads; Mahajan delights in letting them fray. His book’s project is not connection but its erosion, and, accordingly, his approach isn’t rote panorama so much as an extended, off-kilter orbit of the void ... Where other authors concede the clash between the West’s physicality and the East’s spiritualism, Mahajan deftly shows how fundamentally reliant each is on the other, and, consequently, how silly the binary truly is.
Mr. Mahajan’s writing is acrid and bracing, tightly packed with dissonant imagery. Development-scarred New Delhi appears 'baked in exquisite concrete shapes.' The survivors of the bombing are seen 'climbing over the corpses with the guilty look of burglars.' The sharpest passages examine the terrorist mind-set and the demented rationales for mass murder with such acid-etched clarity that it’s possible to feel the deadly magnetism of the arguments ... The Association of Small Bombs is not the first novel about the aftermath of a terrorist attack, but it is the finest I’ve read at capturing the seduction and force of the murderous, annihilating illogic that increasingly consumes the globe.