Join us for dinner at JotMahal/Berkeley and discussion of The Association of Small Bombs, by Karan Mahajan. Please RSVP to Jayma at email@example.com by the Sunday before if you plan to attend so she can know who and how many to expect.
- The author makes a distinction between the number of lives lost in a terrorist incident and the amount and duration of media attention to the attack. There’s not always a correlation. For example, the Boston Marathon bombing was small in terms of lives but large in terms of media attention. Attacks in western countries usually get more attention that attacks that don’t directly affect western lives. Compensation for victims is often more forthcoming in the west, too. What far-reading impact did terrorism in Delhi have on the victims and their families?
- It’s a natural human instinct to empathize more with tragedies that occur in places we’re familiar with, places we’ve visited or have iconic images of – like Boston, or Paris – rather than in places that are largely unknown in the US – like Delhi. The author believes that telling the stories of victims of terrorism in unknown places is a way to make future acts of terrorism in those places more compelling to Americans. Because they’ve come to deeply know a character and understand how they suffered, we now have a connection to that place. What do you remember from the book that connects you to Delhi and the political situation in India?
- The story’s starting point is a 1996 bombing in a Delhi marketplace by Kashmiri separatists, where 13 people died and 30 were injured. But the author knew little except those basic details. He spoke to several survivors and discovered that they had no assistance with the grief they suffered. He invented the story by creating psychological portraits of the terrorists as well as the victims. Rather than trying to humanize the terrorists, he portrayed common criminals who were primarily concerned with the technology of terrorism, rather than any sort of ideological suffering. His view of these terrorists is that they wrapped their political agenda in the language of Islam. How effective is this technique for you? Are you able to understand the terrorists but still condemn their actions?