Karan Mahajan (April 24, 1984) is an Indian-American novelist, essayist, and critic. His second novel, The Association of Small Bombs, was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction. He has contributed writing to The Believer, The Daily Beast, the San Francisco Chronicle, Granta, and The New Yorker. In 2017, he was named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists.Read about Karan Mahajan in Wikipedia
It's rare that you get to read, let alone teach, an arbitrary canon of your choosing in a tight time setting, and I tore through a fairly wide range of Indian writers, some contemporary - like Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie - and others older, like R. K. Narayan. And I think what happened at that stage was that I was forced to take a position in my own writing style that was more fixed, as opposed to reading a book at a time and defining myself in opposition to or in awe of it.
But I think the goal of all these attacks is the same, which is to seize maximum media attention. Maybe some of these attacks were meant to be small. Some of them might have been failed larger attacks. And some of them are just part of a new strategy of doing lots of tiny attacks, as opposed to one large one.
I think I know a lot of fake two-faced Ivy League liberals, and I am constantly testing them to see if their liberalism is a conversational liberalism, one that depends solely on what will fly at a party. And I can tell when stuff like this happens, I swear to God, they are tomorrow's conservatives.
It's easier to set off a bomb that kills innocent civilians in a market than it is to plot an assassination, but that obviously was true before as well. I also think it's now easier to get attention for a small attack that goes off in a random market. It's almost like there's a marketplace for terror in the media, and these people are supplying the attacks, knowing that the media will cover them sensationally.
terrorism is interesting to a novelist because it's a crime that's driven by an idea, as opposed to some kind of base materialist impulse. It's not like stealing from someone's house, or even assassinating someone. There are very complex ideological reasons behind these almost abstract acts of violence.
There's this great fashion among writers, especially those who follow the transnational conservatives like V. S. Naipaul, to disavow one's place in the world as a sort of box that has sprung you but is only worthy of your scorn, because it once contained you. And I've been tempted to say foolish things, like "I am an American writer" or "I belong nowhere," but the truth is I'm perfectly proud of identifying as an Indian writer, even if that might hurt my bottom line.
In India the government is very chaotic and poorly run. They are forced into action by public pressure. When it's a larger event, there's a lot more pressure - to do something, to investigate, to give some kind of compensation to the victims. With the smaller attacks, the pain is concentrated on those affected, because they've not just been forgotten by everyone else, which is normal, they've also been forgotten by the government, which lets the cases drag on for years in the courts.