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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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