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Comment: Ex-Library: contains identifying library markings but withdrawn from circulation, Some wear
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Family Planning: A Novel Paperback – November 18, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

How does one carve his niche—his life—while remaining a loving member of the greater family? Arjun, the eldest of 13 children, straddles that tricky line of playing third parent while struggling to distance himself from his family. A normal day sees him changing diapers, flirting with his crush, and entertaining dreams of rock stardom. Arjun’s father is one of Delhi’s star officials, his mother is addicted to soap operas, and his 12 siblings  remain in a constant battle for those finite emotional resources from each other and their parents. Arjun never shuns his family but does critique his home life, saying “it was a house as pressure cooker.” Arjun’s struggles are compounded when he learns that his mother is not his birth mother, but is that of his siblings. This discovery prompts Arjun to debate the definition of a mother: she who birthed him or raised him? Like any debut, Family Planning has its hiccups, but it is an entertaining exposé of a unique family. --Blair Parsons
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1St Edition edition (November 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006153725X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061537257
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,046,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Karan Mahajan was born in 1984 and grew up in New Delhi, India. His first novel, Family Planning, was a finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize and was published in nine countries. His second novel, The Association of Small Bombs, is forthcoming from Viking in March 2016.

Karan's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR's All Things Considered, The New Yorker online, The Believer, n+1, The Paris Review Daily, and Bookforum. A graduate of Stanford University and the Michener Center for Writers, he lives in Austin, Texas.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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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Debut novels of this caliber are incredibly rare. This reads more like a writer's fourth or fifth book. The prose is tremendously impressive and I love the humor. It is a hilarious book but do not, for one second, imagine it will be a "ligh" read. This books has so much wisdom and human truth in it that you will come out with a most full reading experience. Do yourselves a solid-- buy this book and get swept away in an India you've never read about before!
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Started reading, kept going, finished a couple hours later--one sitting. A very funny book that reads effortlessly but clearly took a deft touch and extraordinary control of tone and structure to write. Vivid characters, great dialogue, and an unusual story. Like a young, New Delhi-based Martin Amis, with a lighter and more humanist touch.
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In this novel about a government minister facing a midlife crisis, Karan Mahajan takes a page from another Indian writer, R.K. Narayan, by telling readers a witty, engaging story about a lively cast of characters, while also addressing (if subtly) that age-old existential question: What are we doing here, anyway?

I'm looking forward to seeing more from this young, and very talented, writer.
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