Karan Mahajan

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We welcome novelist Karan Mahajan this week. His latest is The Association of Small Bombs (Viking USA, 2016).

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Karan Mahajan

Photo by Molly Winters

Karan Mahajan was born in 1984 and grew up in New Delhi, India. In 2008 he burst onto the literary scene with his celebrated debut novel Family Planning (Harper Collins, 2008), a funny, eyebrow-raising indictment of Indian culture.  Published in nine countries, Family Planning won the Joseph Henry Jackson Award and was a finalist for the International Dylan Thomas Prize.

His second novel,  The Association of Small Bombs is a finalist for the National Book Award. The novel came out in March with Viking USA and is forthcoming from Harper India and Chatto & Windus UK.

Karan’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker Online, The Believer, NPR’s All Things Considered, The San Francisco Chronicle, Granta.com, Bookforum, Tehelka, and the anthology, Stumbling and Raging: More Politically Inspired Fiction.

Karan has worked as an editor in San Francisco, a consultant on economic and urban planning issues for the New York City government, and a researcher in Bangalore.

A graduate of Stanford University and the Michener Center for Writers, he currently lives in Austin, Texas. He is at work on his third novel.

Association of Small BombsOn The Association of Small Bombs:

“Wonderful…smart, devastating, unpredictable…..thrilling, tender and tragic…generous without prejudice…” New York Times “Editors’ Choice

Featured on NPR All Things Considered and NPR Weekend Edition Saturday

“Brilliant, troubling…superbly suspenseful…acrid and bracing…The finest [novel] I’ve read at capturing the seduction and force of the murderous, annihilating illogic that consumes the globe.” —Wall Street Journal

“Karan Mahajan’s The Association of Small Bombs urgently depicts the toll of terrorism on victims and perpetrators.” —Vanity Fair

“[Mahajan] renders the spectacle of the bombing with a languid, balletic beauty… vivid, startling power.” The New Yorker

Time magazine “Best Book of 2016 So Far” 

“Ambitious and all too painful…beautifully written…profoundly sad.” Washington Post

“Nothing short of a tour de force.” Philadelphia Inquirer

“In a post-9/11 world, this novel should be considered a must-read.” Huffington Post

“[He] maps the nature of terrorist violence…in a completely original way…His laser beam penetrates larger conflicts of class, creed and region…” Business Standard (India)

“[D]eeply moving…destroys the tropes of the subcontinental novel…Mahajan has committed to a radical and extended act of empathy.” Slate

“[The] novel startles because it picks apart the anatomy of grief like a surgeon attempting to eviscerate a tumor…a book of the beautiful sentence and the unexpected turn of phrase.” Open Magazine (India)

“[D]elves into the most pressing urgencies of the human experience and twists the reader’s sympathies with tremendous dexterity….beautifully sparkling prose… an indubitable standout.” Harvard Crimson

 “[A]devastating and cleverly crafted look at tragedy, both in the run-up and the fallout, and at the circumstances that may lead a person to contemplate mass murder.” The Straits Times (Singapore)

*One of the most anticipated books of 2016 on BuzzfeedThe Millions, Flavorwire, GoodreadsHuffington Post, Chicago Tribune, Travel+LeisureBrooklyn Magazine, and The Week, among others.

About The Association of Small Bombs:

A bomb in a Delhi marketplace sets off  The Association of Small Bombs, a novel about the ways in which tragedy reverberates. In the bombing, the Khuranas, who are Hindu, lose both their sons while the son of the Ahmeds, who are Muslim, survives. While both families are largely secular, religion becomes increasingly important as the plot develops. As additional characters are introduced—the actual bombers, the imprisoned suspects, and activists who insert themselves into the tragedy—emotional and physical scar tissue drives crucial decisions in this daring book.

In the context of our increasing familiarity with terrorist attacks, this book courageously tackles the humanity and confusion of all those associated with bombs—bombers and victims alike.  Kirkus

On Mahajan’s first novel, Family Planning (Harper Collins, 2008):

Family Planning

An NPR “Best Books of 2008” and “Summer Reads of 2009”

“A spot-on satire of Indian family life, globalization, and intergenerational strife.” —New York Post

“Genuinely funny. . . . Profound. . . . [A]n irresistible voice with a rich sense of humor fueled by sorrow.” —Washington Post Book World

Family Planning is one of the best and funniest first novels I’ve read in years.” Daily Beast

“Brave, breakneck, and amusing . . . Irreverent, fresh . . . Almost every page bears a passage worth quoting.” San Francisco Chronicle

“Highly entertaining. . . . The level of concision, insight and humor… is rare from any writer, but particularly one so young.” —NPR “Books We Like”

“Karan Mahajan combines take-no-prisoners satire with haunting insights into the human condition.” Manil Suri, author of The Death of Vishnu

“The truest portrait of modern New Delhi I’ve read.” Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City

For more information, you can visit karan-mahajan.com, plus you can keep up with him on Twitter.