Big City

Karan Mahajan, whose debut novel Family Planning comes out any second now, has written for The Believer and Granta, and he once interviewed Broken Social Scene's bassist. Except for the debut-novel part, none of that is very interesting. This is: In 2004, he and his friends opened the Matthias K. Rath Museum of Destruction and Resurrection, in college, in their dorm room, located at Stanford. Dr. Rath, you won't recall, took out ads in the New York Times lambasting Bush for going to war to aid the pharmaceutical industry. He was strange. The museum did him justice. It featured 60 exhibits, including stuff like A Shaman’s Rug In Arrested Flight, Celestial Chart Employed by Ancient Navigators in Micronesia, and The Quilt Worn By Governor Dukakis in Berkeley College in the Year 1988 -- which is to say, a bunch of crap. Mahajan opened the museum as an homage to the mysto-curator David Wilson and his Museum of Jurassic Technology. Upon Mahajan's graduation, all the exhibits were destroyed by visitors. Every college should have one of these.

We don't know much about Family Planning, but we do know it is set in New Delhi, features a man with thirteen children, takes place in a week, and has the theme "chaos," according to the author. At least one weighty writer, Jay McInerney, has put his stamp on it, calling Mahajan "a masterful storyteller, an assured stylist, and a gentle satirist" and the book "one of the best comic novels I've read in years."
Mon., Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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