In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
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 mud

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.

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.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393337204
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
11/16/2009
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
208,991
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are saying about this

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.
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.
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.

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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In Other Rooms, Other Wonders 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
idoc_dewinter More than 1 year ago
This was unlike most books I have read, consisting of short stories that interweaved into a larger theme. What interested me towards it was the idea of writing about the Pakistani feudal system that continues to resonate in the present day, something that is not commonly written by contemporary Pakistani authors, unless one can translate the novels into English. It was well written: the characters were purposeful and had substance, and the situations they were faced with were direct consequences from the choices they made. Most of the characters did have a complete end, while the fate of others were left up to the reader even though one could easily assume what would be the result of their exploits. Each story dealt with a different social class, focusing on the hardships they must face because the of the lives they are forced to lead. It is easy to make judgements about the charactes and their lives, such as the rich being too powerful, fattened up by their gluttonous behaviors, however after seeing the social constraints placed upon every class, the upper class are no exception to the rules of culture and aristocracy. Mueenuddin is careful not to make any exception or hold any one class in regard over another allowing the reader to form their own opinions about the way each class lives. Although each story fit into another, there was a feeling of incompleteness at the end. There was no real hope for most of the characters, and instead of feeling that each character was going to upgrade from their present lives, they were either forced to endure their continued life of misery or their lives just became worse. The lack of at least one instance of happiness was probably the only disappointing aspect the novel because it left a yearning, a desire to achieve the ultimate goal of self-satisfaction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Insightful, descriptive, diverse stories of the many landscapes and people that make up Pakistan - a complex country with complex people. Loved it and would recommend it to anyone who likes reading South Asian fiction with a focus on relationships and characters.
momwifeattorneygolfer More than 1 year ago
Thank you, Mr. Mueenuddin, for sharing your gift!! This will probably go down as one of my favorite novels of all time. Although it is written in short stories (which I am not a huge fan of) all the chapters connect, and it fairly reads like a novel.
ResearchGuy More than 1 year ago
This is a set of short stories from an author who has published short stories previously in various periodicals. I received a publisher's advance reading copy 9 January 2009, and read selections over the next month or so. The stories take place in the author's native Pakistan, and portray various lives in different situations. The settings vary from rural to urban, but there is a continuity of characters, tying all the stories together. For instance, the rich land owner K K Harouni lives in Islamabad, but own land in a rural area. Most of the stories take place in the worker's village on his farm, in the neighbouring villages or in other villages connected to Harouni's workers or other members of their community. In one story we are with Harouni at his death, learning more of the intrigues and trials of the rich upper strata of Pakistani society. The stories vary in style. Mueenuddin reveals the inner dynamics of Pakistani culture through his characters and the events in their lives. He reveals the pitiful, exploited poverty of the majority of the people we meet. Likewise he evokes a sympathetic lament from the reader over the entrenched corruption. Everything has a price. No justice is objective. The police and magistrates, and any level of civil administration is open for bribes. Those with money can make the wheels move in the direction of their favor. Yet he also includes a stream of reaping what you sow. There is even a murder mystery in this collection. This illustrates the injustice of the justice system in Pakistan. This tale involves the police and judges, entailing false accusations, a falsified charge, bribes, counter-bribes, and finally a resolution that might surprise you. On a couple of these stories, I was left puzzled about just what it was supposed to mean. Overall, though, I think other readers will agree with my general conclusion that these are rich portraits of people and a cultural milieu many would not otherwise see.
BillPilgrim More than 1 year ago
This is a book of short stories that are slightly linked, in that the main characters are all related on some level to a feudal landowner who lives in Lahore, Pakistan. They are either relatives or servants of the man, who himself is the main character in one of the stories. The books presents a different picture of Pakistan than what we usually get here in the USA. The main family is not religious, and they live in a mostly secular society. We do not hear much of the religious people of the country, only rarely in passing. The stories are primarily rather sad, ending badly for most of the people. Life there is still very hard for the non-religious people, and they struggle to try to find any happiness. This is especially true of the women, of either class, who have little freedom in a very patriarchal country. In a few of the stories, there are women who become mistresses or second wives of wealthy men, and who are then discarded. If you are interested in learning about life in Pakistan, and if you don't need a feel good ending, the stories are very well written and interesting. I found the book very enjoyable.
Emmyfa More than 1 year ago
This collection of somewhat connected (some barely connected) short stories did not hold my interest. I read it for my book group so I stuck with it. Some of the book group members really liked this book. Others, like me, did not. It depends on what you like. I am not a fan of short stories but thought this would be ok since they were touted as connected but the connections are so far away that they might as well not be connected. All of the characters are troubled and there are no happy endings. I will say it is well written.
madfry More than 1 year ago
This collection of short stories is amazing. Muenuddin has a way with words that often takes your breath away. I can't wait for his next book!
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On the positive side, the author sheds a lot of light on the feudal system in Pakistan. But he also seems to go out of his way to write in a nebulous, almost frustrating style.
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Great way to read about the historical and personal perspective in Pakistan.