In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

3.4 23
by Daniyal Mueenuddin
     
 

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Finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in Fiction and the 2009 Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. “The rural rootedness and gentle humour of R.K. Narayan with the literary sophistication and stylishness of Jhumpa Lahiri.”—Financial Times
Passing from the mannered drawing rooms of Pakistan’s cities to the harsh

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Overview

Finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in Fiction and the 2009 Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. “The rural rootedness and gentle humour of R.K. Narayan with the literary sophistication and stylishness of Jhumpa Lahiri.”—Financial Times
Passing from the mannered drawing rooms of Pakistan’s cities to the harsh mud villages beyond, Daniyal Mueenuddin’s linked stories describe the interwoven lives of an aging feudal landowner, his servants and managers, and his extended family, industrialists who have lost touch with the land. In the spirit of Joyce’s Dubliners and Turgenev’s A Sportsman’s Sketches, these stories comprehensively illuminate a world, describing members of parliament and farm workers, Islamabad society girls and desperate servant women. A hard-driven politician at the height of his powers falls critically ill and seeks to perpetuate his legacy; a girl from a declining Lahori family becomes a wealthy relative’s mistress, thinking there will be no cost; an electrician confronts a violent assailant in order to protect his most valuable possession; a maidservant who advances herself through sexual favors unexpectedly falls in love.
Together the stories in In Other Rooms, Other Wonders make up a vivid portrait of feudal Pakistan, describing the advantages and constraints of social station, the dissolution of old ways, and the shock of change. Refined, sensuous, by turn humorous, elegiac, and tragic, Mueenuddin evokes the complexities of the Pakistani feudal order as it is undermined and transformed.

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Editorial Reviews

David Davidar
“A blazingly good writer. He brings to vivid and compelling life a country and its people.”
Elizabeth Evans
“Daniyal Mueenuddin’s Pakistanis are like Chekhov’s Russians, so fully realized that we never wonder over what motivates them. They are living, breathing presences—sometimes brought so close that, I daresay, you hear the sounds of their breathing and the roll of gravel under their feet. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders brings us a new way of seeing the world, and it is one that we could not have anticipated.”
National Public Radio
Another virtuoso book I want to recommend is In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, a collection of stories by the Pakistani-American writer Daniyal Mueenuddin. I can't praise Mueenuddin's work too much: He has the gifts of insight into human behavior of Alice Munro, the gift for detail we find in Updike and William Trevor, and the ability to make sentences and paragraphs that pack the punch of something out of James Salter and Richard Ford.— Alan Cheuse
The Economist
“Remarkable. . . . a poignant picture of Punjabi life.”
New York Times Book Review
“Mueenuddin’s talent lets us perceive not just [Pakistan’s] machinations but also its beauty. . . . In this labyrinth of power games and exploits, Mueenuddin inserts luminous glimmers of longing, loss and, most movingly, unfettered love.”
Washington Post
“Mueenuddin convincingly captures the mindset or speech of any class. . . . A collection full of pleasures.”
Entertainment Weekly
“[Mueenuddin’s] crisp, vivid voice glides effortlessly into his various characters’ heads. . . . Dark stuff, but full of beauty.”
Manil Suri
“Daniyal Mueenuddin takes us into a sumptuously created world, peopled with characters who are both irresistible and compellingly human. His stories unfold with the authenticity and resolute momentum of timeless classics.”
Mohsin Hamid
“A stunning achievement. This superb collection ranges across a vast swath of contemporary Pakistan—from megacities to isolated villages, from feudal landlords to servant girls—and such is its narrative power that I couldn’t stop turning the page. Daniyal Mueenuddin is a writer of enormous ambition, and he has the prodigious talent to match.”
Alan Cheuse - National Public Radio
“Another virtuoso book I want to recommend is In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, a collection of stories by the Pakistani-American writer Daniyal Mueenuddin. I can't praise Mueenuddin's work too much: He has the gifts of insight into human behavior of Alice Munro, the gift for detail we find in Updike and William Trevor, and the ability to make sentences and paragraphs that pack the punch of something out of James Salter and Richard Ford.”
Michael Dirda
In every instance, Mueenuddin convincingly captures the mindset or speech of any class, from the hardworking Nawab, a roustabout electrician with 11 daughters, to the flamboyantly decadent Mino, who imports tons of sand to his country estate for a "Night of the Tsunami" party…In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is a collection full of pleasures.
—The Washington Post
Dalia Sofer
Reading Daniyal Mueenuddin's mesmerizing first collection, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, is like watching a game of blackjack, the shrewd players calculating their way beyond their dealt cards in an attempt to beat the dealer. Some bust, others surrender. But in Mueenuddin's world, no one wins…In this labyrinth of power games and exploits, Mueenuddin inserts luminous glimmers of longing, loss and, most movingly, unfettered love.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In eight beautifully crafted, interconnected stories, Mueenuddin explores the cutthroat feudal society in which a rich Lahore landowner is entrenched. A complicated network of patronage undergirds the micro-society of servants, families and opportunists surrounding wealthy patron K.K. Harouni. In "Nawabdin Electrician," Harouni's indispensable electrician, Nawab, excels at his work and at home, raising 12 daughters and one son by virtue of his cunning and ingenuity-qualities that allow him to triumph over entrenched poverty and outlive a robber bent on stealing his livelihood. Women are especially vulnerable without the protection of family and marriage ties, as the protagonist of "Saleema" learns: a maid in the Harouni mansion who cultivates a love affair with an older servant, Saleema is left with a baby and without recourse when he must honor his first family and renounce her. Similarly, the women who become lovers of powerful men, as in the title story and in "Provide, Provide," fall into disgrace and poverty with the death of their patrons. An elegant stylist with a light touch, Mueenuddin invites the reader to a richly human, wondrous experience. (Feb.)

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Kirkus Reviews
The pangs of individuals and cultures subject to established inequality and radical change are expertly analyzed in Pakistani author Mueenuddin's impressive debut collection. The eight stories explore relationships among scions of the super-rich Harouni farming family, living near Lahore-those who serve it and those who marry (often unhappily) into it. The stories are Chekhovian in their grasp of indigenous detail and subtle understanding of their characters' complex experiences and destinies. In "Nawabdin Electrician" (one of two stories that previously appeared in the New Yorker), a resourceful Mr. Fixit, who's also the overburdened father of several marriageable daughters, patches together a living from his genius for mechanical improvisation, suffers grievous losses when he's robbed and beaten, yet, through sheer force of will, perseveres. Echoes of Irish storyteller Frank O'Connor's keen eye for quotidian minutiae and Doris Lessing's fatalistic irony are sounded in the title story's understated portrayal of an indigent woman who "rises" to security as mistress to the elderly Harouni patriarch, but, upon his death, loses all she has gained; the tale of a judge's servant whose family turns an act of horrific abuse to its profit ("About a Burning Girl"); and a harrowing story ("A Spoiled Man") about an aging workman whose painstakingly earned chance at happiness is ruined by a do-gooder's misunderstanding of the traditions that fix him irrevocably in his place. Even better are the longer stories: In "Lily," the chronicle of a vain party girl's ingenuous hope of reclaiming respectability, as the wife of an industrious wealthy farmer's son, is dashed as their utter incompatibilityuncoils and shows itself; and the magnificent "Provide, Provide," wherein the ambitious Zainab insinuates herself among the Harounis, abandoning her weakling husband to marry a well-placed household servant, only to lose everything when the force of family obligation shoulders aside all her scheming. Superlative stories from an accomplished stylist who looks as if he may well have a great novel in him. Author tour to New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Ore. Agent: Bill Clegg/William Morris Agency
Nadeem Aslam
“Under Daniyal Mueenuddin's gaze, Pakistan is lit up as though by a lightning flash, clear, sharp-edged. This is a debut as auspicious as something arresting, beautiful, or wise (as opposed to clever) on every single page. I can remarkable, I admire it so deeply.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393337204
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
11/16/2009
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,372,748
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Daniyal Mueenuddin was brought up in Lahore, Pakistan and Elroy, Wisconsin. A
graduate of Dartmouth College and Yale Law School, his stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope, The Best American Short Stories 2008, selected by Salman Rushdie, and the forthcoming PEN/O.Henry Prize Stories 2010. For a number of years he practiced law in New York. He now lives on a farm in Pakistan’s southern Punjab.

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