The Association of Small Bombs
The Association of Small Bombs begins with a bombing in Lajpat Nagar, a Delhi marketplace. Tushar and Nakul Khurana are killed by the bomb, although their friend Mansoor Ahmed survives. The bomb demands a visceral reaction from all those involved — the Khuranas struggle with grief and despair, the Ahmeds celebrate their son’s survival, and Shockie, the terrorist who planted the bomb, is disappointed it didn’t kill more people. It’s in the bomb’s immediate aftermath that the novel shines, exploring the contradiction of perspectives. Shockie is disappointed that only a few people were killed. However, for the Khuranas, the number of dead doesn’t matter — their sons were killed. And Mansoor survives the bomb only to be haunted by it. For the characters, what’s worse than dying is surviving with the feeling that life is no longer worth living. But the novel loses its way as the scope expands outward. Ayub, an activist fighting for those wrongly accused of terrorism, is only tangentially connected to the bombing, and his introduction muddies the novel’s focus. The bomb eventually recedes into the past, and the narrative loses steam as it distances itself from the very event that set it off.