Ben Smithgall

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Software and data at Spotify. Previously with U.S. Digital Service and Code for America.

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The Association of Small Bombs

By Karan Mahajan

Finished reading on July 20, 2018

A beautiful meandering book. The titular bombs are both literal bombs but also events that ripple out from their root sources, altering and changing the lives of the characters and those around them. All of the actions, though, have their root in the original explosion which opens the book. From there, the fallout permeates across time and space.

The book also spends time exploring why people are pulled to violent action and its appeal, but the end sort of lets it down. All of the characters are twisted together following a second bomb.

The book also weaves 9/11 into the fabric of events, showing how it affects people and the way it changed the US overnight for many who became suddenly the targets of unwarranted suspicion.

Overall, I highly recommend the book, it is a tremendous exploration into the human experience of acute suffering and the physical and psychological manifestations of that suffering over a long period.

★★★★☆