Perhaps because he’s written only two novels and published only one so far, Indian American writer Karan Mahajan hasn’t been appropriated by India yet. That may change if his second novel, The Association of Small Bombs, lives up to the promise of what little is known about it.
To be launched in India in July, the novel starts with a “small’ bomb going off in a Delhi market, killing the young Mahajan brothers. The story then tracks their friend Mansoor, the Mahajan boys’ parents, and several other characters, bringing together strands of terrorism, a quest for justice, activism, and unwilling participation.
In a year when few, if any, big guns of global Indian fiction are publishing, Mahajan’s novel has a clear field to make a mark, if it is extraordinary. Pulitzer winner Adam Johnson, for one, is all praise: “Like a Russian novel set in India, Karan Mahahan’s The Association of Small Bombs has the sweep, wisdom and sensibility of the old masters. Here the humor of Bulgakov and the heart of Pasternak deliver an exploded-view of a small bomb that goes off in a minor market in a corner of South Delhi.”
Till the book comes out to prove Johsnon right or wrong, here’s Mahajan’s first – and more lighthearted, even hysterically funny – novel, Family Planning.