Ask a bookseller: Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Mich.

'The Association of Small Bombs'
'The Association of Small Bombs' by Karan Mahajan
Courtesy of publisher

Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke with Hilary Gustafson, an owner of the Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Karan Mahajan's "The Association of Small Bombs" just hit shelves in paperback. The novel is on the longlist for the National Book Awards, and Gustafson says anyone with a taste for literary fiction should pick it up.

"It's just kind of like a punch in the gut," she said. "It's intricately devastating ... It's absolutely brilliant. It's the story of a single small bomb in a small market in Delhi, and it cuts deep into the unruly mess of loss — both physically and psychologically."

Mahajan's book follows the aftermath of the bombing, tracing ripples of grief and conflict. The novel jumps between the family of two boys killed in the blast, the boys' friend who survived and the bomber himself.

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"The characters within are scorched by a dazzling amount of suffering, but you're really caught up in their lives," she said. "It's an examination of the consequences of really small decisions, and it explores the indiscriminate nature of terror, which is extremely timely today."

Gustafson said that although it's a difficult read, she couldn't turn away.

"I remember I was on a plane when I finished the last page, and I just put the book down and was like: 'I need to talk to someone about this book! It's amazing!'"

The Association of Small Bombs The Association of Small Bombs