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Family Planning: A Novel [Paperback]

Karan Mahajan

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Book Description

Nov. 10 2008 P.S.

Rakesh Ahuja, a Government Minister in New Delhi, is beset by problems: thirteen children and another on the way; a wife who mourns the loss of her favorite TV star; and a teenaged son with somereallystrong opinions about family planning.

To make matters worse, looming over this comical farrago are secrets-both personal and political-that threaten to push the Ahuja household into disastrous turmoil. Following father and son as they blunder their way across the troubled landscape of New Delhi, Karan Mahajan brilliantly captures the frenetic pace of India's capital city to create a searing portrait of modern family life.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st Edition edition (Nov. 10 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006153725X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061537257
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.3 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,900,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The patriarch of a chaotic family living in a hectic land must come to terms with himself and what he's wrought at home and at work in this excellent debut. Rakesh Ahuja battles the twin bedlams of his sprawling family and overcrowded home city of New Delhi while simultaneously trying to save his career as the minister of urban development. Rakesh attempts to manipulate and cajole his way through the corrupt and sometimes illogical Indian civil service, often finding himself embroiled in absurd intrigues. Home is no less fraught, where his 13 children battle each other for their often-absent father's love. The lone exception is Arjun, the eldest, whose adolescent rebellion and nascent romantic inclinations prompt him to form a rock band and pull away from his frenetic family. As Rakesh clumsily reaches out to his first-born son, the twists of fate that shaped both their lives are revealed, providing a portrait of a family that is both comical and heartbreaking. Mahajan's effortless blending of comedy and tragedy is irresistible and should help his book stand out. (Dec.)
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“Mahajan’s sprightly first novel portrays India’s capital—10 million strong—in all its explosive fecundity. . . . Mahajan is only 24 years old, but he has already developed an irresistible voice with a rich sense of humor fueled by sorrow.” (Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World)

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

“Karan Mahajan is a natural—a masterful storyteller, an assured stylist and a gentle satirist whose unblinking vision is ultimately tempered by compassion. Family Planning is an incredibly accomplished debut. More than a fine first novel, it’s one of the best comic novels I’ve read in years.” (Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City)

“An excellent debut. . . . A portrait of family that is both comical and heartbreaking. . . . Mahajan’s effortless blending of comedy and tragedy is irresistible.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Sharply written, bracingly funny, and unexpectedly moving—Karan Mahajan combines ‘take no prisoners’ satire with haunting insights into the human condition.” (Manil Suri)

“An entertaining expose of a unique family.” (Booklist)

“A delightfully entertaining novel about father-son conflict that readers from just about any culture can appreciate. . . . Mahajan interjects hilarity throughout otherwise tense and poignant moments of family drama. . . . Strongly recommended.” (Library Journal)

“Brave, breackneck, and amusing. . . . A fearless cultural domestic tour. . . . Irreverent, fresh, and sometimes, given its author’s youth, preternaturally wise.” (The San Francisco Chronicle)

“The truest portrait of modern New Delhi I’ve read, and the funniest book of the year.” (Suketu Mehta, The Daily Beast)

“Comic novels, full of loveable eccentrics and sly social commentary, seem to be one of ‘new’ India’s main exports; this is one of the sharpest and funniest examples.” (The Times (London))

“Mahajan is only 24 years old, but he has a mature and impressive grasp of poignant comedy and has opened up Delhi to western readers in a way that a more overtly politicised novel may not.” (The Observer (London))

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dilly in Delhi July 21 2009
By Dick Johnson - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Our hero is a politician and father of thirteen - all still at home. I don't know which is scarier: a politician raising his own voter base; or raising thirteen kids. Thankfully, the terror stops there.

The fun, however, starts on page one and continues throughout the book. We have family follies and political pandemonium; coming-of-age and first-love; and lots of children.

I felt as if Mahajan was sitting next to me telling me the story; the writing was that real and 'friendly'. I am amazed that this is a first book. This being the P.S. edition, we also get the additional material from him in the back of the book.

Grab this one if you want to have fun and enjoy a satiric look at part of the life of India.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I laughed, I cried, I identified! Dec 18 2008
By Jessica W. Ley - Published on
As the adult program planner for a large suburban library in the NY metropolitan area, responsbile for booking author appearances, a huge number of books cross my desk. It would be impossible to read them all so I choose pages at random, trying to avoid being influenced by the publisher's hype. Karan Mahajan's "Family Planning" grabbed me right from the beginning...not his beginning but mine, which just happened to be page 137. A few pages later I went to page 1 and didn't stop until the end. He is visiting the Port Washington Public Library on Tuesday, August 11 @ 7:30 - I can't wait! If you're in the neighborhood, drop by.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny and Touching Dec 15 2008
By Mary Lins - Published on
I bought "Family Planning" right after hearing an interview with the young author, Karan Mahajan, on NPR. It was an impulse buy based on how intelligent and witty Mr. Mahajan had been in the interview; I was not disappointed. It's a delightful coming-of-age story and very humorous, which is not something I usually associate with tales set in Delhi, India. I'll be watching for more form this promising young man.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family Planning April 2 2009
By Carl E. Schoonover - Published on
There are many things to love in this immensely clever book. One that appeals to the scientist in me is Mahajan's virtuosic use of science-based metaphors and images to illustrate situations and feelings that are distinctly non-scientific. It is challenging enough for science writers to translate abstract descriptions of Nature into laymen's terms--a task that results more often than not in abusive metaphor-stretch and other such assaults on our language; but to successfully accomplish this work in the other direction (employing abstract scientific concepts to sketch the minutiae of human experience) is something of a coup. In less accomplished hands this sort of device is almost guaranteed to sound contrived and fall flat, but in "Family Planning" it blends seamlessly into Mahajan's cool, confident prose.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excelent debut novel, fun and well structured Feb. 4 2009
By Maria Barrera - Published on
I read Family Matters after having heard the author at a reading in New York City. From the first page, the evidence of a unique new voice was present. The plot is highly complex, yet very accessible. It is full of unexpected turns and will make you laugh and think. Not many first novels have such a blend of poignant and fun characters. I agree with another reviewer whom found a kinship with Narayan's world. Mahajan's fiction is unique indeed, and I wish many more people discover it as the very worthy beginning of a promising author.

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