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Family Planning

3.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  292 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
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 some really strong 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 ho
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 18th 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published November 5th 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 752)
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Jul 09, 2010 Karin rated it it was ok
This book had all the right elements but something just didn't work for me. I read the whole thing thinking "this is perfectly absurd, I should be laughing" but instead I just kept dozing off.
May 19, 2016 Tim rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
A funny and quirky debut novel that follows the life of an Indian politician named Rakush, his eldest son Anjur, and the rest of his enormous family. The narrative jumps back and forth between Rakush and Anjur as they both are going through trying times in their lives. I'm nowhere near an expert on Indian culture or politics, but from what little I've heard, this seems like a fairly spot on send up of both.
Audrey Evans
Jul 03, 2016 Audrey Evans rated it really liked it
When you read Mahajan, you feel other people's feelings; you live in other lands and you are fully entertained. I found myself laughing on one page but aching with compassion on the next. His writing is exquisite.
Although the social and cultural references will not be familiar immediately, the writing is so good that as you continue reading, you absorb the meaning of the references just as you would were you actually having the experience.
Jul 05, 2016 Terry rated it liked it
This is a great comic novel about an Indian politician in Delhi, his teenage son and his very large and growing family. It's very entertaining and Mahajan is an author I'll read again, but he doesn't so much bring his story to closure as just bring it to a stop.
Dec 05, 2008 Glotrad rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all
What a spectacular book from a debut article. A seemingly simple subject on a family and its head in a few days is woven into a complex plot that is handled brilliantly, with a wickedly comic streak that keeps the reader entertained..and the human element of father son, husband wife and professional life, adolescent crush and a chaotic Indian city, all dealt with remarkable prose and dexterity.
A must read for all walks of life, for its hilarious and brilliant portrayal of modern day India.
Dec 15, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing
This is a wild romp of a book about a family of thirteen (going on fourteen) in New Delhi, India. The pov shifts between the oldest kid, a sixteen year old boy, his dad, a pregnant woman loving politician, and the poor, poor wife/mom. The author does a really wonderful job of folding in past story, and running the plot into complications, and depicting the interactions of teenage boys. A very fun read, by a very nice guy-- a new friend in the neighborhood.
May 06, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it
A fast, breezy, comic read. The writer has a clever voice that was a lot of fun to spend a day with. He was really young when he wrote this, and the understanding of relationships is definitely emotionally immature. The female characters are particularly cartoonish. But the book does uproar and caper exceedingly well.
May 23, 2014 Bookreaderljh rated it it was ok
Not a great book but did have its moments. It is the story of an Indian politician, his oldest son and his other twelve children. The son's story revolves around his quest to impress a girl by convincing her that he plays in a band. His interaction with friends and family is funny and points out the fickleness of young love. At the same time his father's story revolves around the tragic story of his true love and the arranged marriage that follows her death. Parts of the book's descriptions of t ...more
Catherine  Mustread
Jan 09, 2011 Catherine Mustread rated it liked it
Recommended to Catherine by: Dylan Thomas prize nominee
Shelves: humor, wendy, india, sex
Humorous domestic debut novel with serious themes of sexual dysfunction, desires, family dynamics and Indian society in a plot focusing on the personal dramas of a father and eldest son in an unusually large family, alternating chapters switch from the point of view of the father to the son. I liked the humor and found the teenage son to be a more sympathetic character than the well-meaning but inept father.

Father and son are both well developed characters but the Mother appears as a "large empt
Mar 27, 2014 Jessica rated it liked it
Recommended to Jessica by: Karan Mahajan
Shelves: review-copy
I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my own.

Rakesh Ahuja has thirteen children (with one on the way) and a wife whom he is attracted to only when she is pregnant. He is the Minister of Urban Development in the Indian government, but his personal and political clashes are taking their toll. In particular, he's dealing with his immature and moody oldest son, Arjun, and a political coup started by the (on-screen) death of the country's most famous soap star
Mar 10, 2009 Daria rated it really liked it
The writer grew up in India, came to Stanford for college, and now lives in New York, where I heard him at a reading. He has a wonderful voice, both in life and on the page; it rises humorous, wise, compassionate, and bold, to pull you immediately into the story and guide you companionably forward through it. He also has a fabulous control of language and I found myself smiling frequently as I read at the sheer bodily pleasure of a perfect yet unexpected phrase or metaphor. The organizing struct ...more
May 03, 2014 Shelley rated it it was ok
Thought I would like this book, but the lack of plot really made it hard for me to finish. There were some comic scenes, and good writing, but overall I really didn't see the point, and was hoping that the author would get to it, but didn't.
Larry Hoffer
Jul 25, 2011 Larry Hoffer rated it really liked it
I'm always a little suspicious of books labeled as "darkly comic" or "comic novels," because quite often an editor or publisher's idea of funny and mine are fairly different. I enjoyed this book a lot but I don't know that it's all that funny. It's a very interesting story, however, of an Indian government official, his fairly disconnected wife and their 13 children. The juxtaposition of Mr. Ahuja's viewpoints with his oldest son's worked really well, although I'll admit some of the descriptions ...more
Feb 16, 2015 Ruchi rated it it was ok
very very amateur writing.. very predictable .. and reallly boring!!!! i couldnt go through with it!
Feb 27, 2009 Noah rated it liked it
I'm more than a little biased because I lived in a dorm with the author my freshman year of college. On the other hand, good fiction is usually wasted on me, so hopefully those biases balance each other out. This book starts out a little slow, but is great when it hits its stride. It's full of subtle comedy and even subtler drama. My only real complaint is that I felt like not being Indian, or at least Indian American, was a handicap in absorbing the full texture of the descriptions and the char ...more
Beth Gordon
Aug 20, 2011 Beth Gordon rated it liked it
This story primarily focused on Rakesh Ahuja, a politician in India, and his wife and one of his many children. I found the marital relationship fascinating. I didn't quite understand his work political issues, but it could have been that I was so intrigued by the marital aspect that I was just phoning it in when he was dealing with the work issues. The son Arjun was interesting but really didn't get a lot of airtime except for his crush on the girl on the bus that he tries to do a rock concert ...more
Feb 06, 2009 Katrina rated it really liked it
This was an intensely pleasurable read for me, and I would recommend it to just about anyone. The writing is fast-paced and witty, funny in a very unexpected and off-the-wall way that really tickled me. The overall arc of the plot felt a little crumbly towards the end -- I felt that it ended abruptly, or maybe just with little resolution, but it wasn't enough to sully the great experience I had reading this book.
Celeste Bennett
Jan 03, 2013 Celeste Bennett rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Not my style. Some interesting plot elements based in relationships: a father fumbling as he tries to figure out how to reveal the past to his firstborn son, who is now a teenager; the son, fumbling as he tries to create a rock band to impress his crush; the stepmother, who's never known someone who loves her. Set in modern-day India against the crazy machinations of a corrupt government bureaucracy.
Jun 22, 2010 Alex rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book, but: there's no plot to speak of. The characters are not particularly credible. Despite the premise and promise -- twelve siblings and the eldest, a teenager -- it's not funny. The style occasionally does have something to recommend it, but only occasionally. All in all, the book feels as if it were written by a twenty year old for those of fifteen.
Jan 07, 2009 Ewarner rated it really liked it
I heard an interview with the writer on NPR and went out and bought the book. I felt I had walked into a slice of life of present day middle class India, seen through the eyes of an adolescent boy. This writer is hilarious and at points I just laughed out loud. This is a quick read.
Jul 19, 2012 Patty rated it liked it
At first I gave this 4 stars. It's really pretty good for what it is. But the attitude towards women is just revolting, and although I usually overlook that sort of thing without even realizing that I'm overlooking it (because honestly, it's so common), it's just too much in this novel.
Samra Muslim
Mar 30, 2013 Samra Muslim rated it did not like it
I honestly wanted to enjoy this book - just because of the basic plot ... "13 kids, new one on the way, etc etc" ... but in the end was throughly disappointed because the great idea goes nowhere !!!
A stand-still saga ... an idea that just didnt end up being a story ... !!!
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this because it was longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2010.

It stared out good - interesting characters, chaotic family and city setting, but it kind of wore out for me. I have a feeling it would be much funnier to people who had lived or live in New Delhi.
Shashi Gupta
Jun 22, 2010 Shashi Gupta rated it it was amazing
I was impressed by how lightly this book treated weighty subjects. I was also surprised at how well the young author portrayed the psychological violence with which members of a family treat each other. Recommended for fans of Philip Roth and Salman Rushdie.
Apr 28, 2013 Julia added it
I'm not sure what I think of this. It was interesting and I liked it, but I did not get a cohesive "big-picture"... though that easily could be because my reading was mostly a little at a time and during a very mentally busy month.
Jul 21, 2009 Arnetra rated it it was ok
Shelves: can-t-finish
It;s about a boy who wants to inpress someone but also who wants attention. and Its about a Man, His father, who mourns his first wife's, need his son's love, and I think he wants some sort of power too. Oh well, read it if you dare.
Karyn Gayle
Aug 04, 2012 Karyn Gayle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just didn't enjoy this book. It's well written but none of the characters appealed to me and the book didn't even become remotely interesting to me until I was about 70% into it.
Mar 14, 2013 Alisonismail rated it liked it
Definitely a 'good read'. Plot wise, not that much going on in this book, but the narrative is very funny and it's a really compelling picture of life in middle class Delhi.
Aug 25, 2010 Krista rated it it was ok
This book just never hooked me - I didn't find the characters (aside from the teenage son) or the plot very compelling. Can't even remember if I finished the last chapter.
Feb 16, 2009 Chase rated it really liked it
The author is a friend of mine from college. I was very impressed by this book. It's very clever and witty, but also pretty deep. I'm looking forward to his next book.
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Around the Year i...: Family Planning, by Karan Mahajan 2 20 Dec 11, 2015 08:53AM  
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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
More about Karan Mahajan...

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