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In Other Rooms, Other Wonders Paperback – November 16, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (November 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393337200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393337204
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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, Harounis 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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Mueenuddin brings to bear on his stories his personal experience: the son of a Pakistani father and an American mother, he was educated in the United States and lives in Pakistan. Drawing comparisons to Flaubert, Chekov, and Balzac is a smart way to kick off a writing career. When not searching for analogs from the annals of literature, critics found plenty of superlatives to praise Mueenuddin's work, which effectively depicts a place and people plagued by class and ancestral tension and caught between the past and an uncertain future. While plenty of ugliness exists in the motives and petty schemes of his characters, Mueenuddin remains evenhanded, elegantly setting the stage for the tensions between power and poverty and all attendant human frailties to play out.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Daniyal Mueenuddin, author of the acclaimed "In Other Rooms, Other Wonders," 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.

Customer Reviews

I was very impressed with the author's ability to develop incredible characters in short stories!
S. M. Giesen
This is a collection of powerful short stories illustrating the rural to urban transition in Pakistan and the impact of modernization on traditional Pakistani society.
James W. Fonseca
They live in a distinct society, one that is the polar opposite of our own--yet the reader will feel close to these characters, will envy some, pity most.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Cowell VINE VOICE on November 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It is impossible to say enough about these subtle, deep, painful stories which remind me of Chekhov. In all the tales, revolving somehow around a very rich Pakistani landowner and his family, the poet Burn's line "man's inhumanity to man" kept echoing in my mind. I was enthralled by the unique vision and skill of the writer and at the same time truly depressed by the stories. The rich see nothing outside themselves but for brief moments; they have little joy and the poor are less than chattel to them. The poor or those fallen from prosperity cluster about them, hanging on to their feet for dear life, and inevitably falling away. If love begins to blossom in these stories, it will fail by one partner's flawed nature or parents' manipulative intervention. If any character has a sweet or generous nature, he or she is totally extinguished. Women fare the worse, being kept as mistresses until the man dies and then losing everything.

What a picture it paints of a feudal society though throughout the classes! Nawabdin the electrician can fix any machine with mango sap and makeshift wiring until it soon breaks again; he married, early in his life, "a sweet woman of unsurpassed fertility" who gave him twelve daughters for whom he must find dowries by turning his hand to dozens of little businesses until a thief in even more desperate condition tries to kill him for his motorcycle. Lily, a woman in her 30s who is weary of a life of loose sex and wild parties, vows to change into a model farmer's wife when she marries the decent son of a rich landowner. She discovers once married that "I'm not the type to be dutiful. I'm messy and willful and self-destructive." (The paragraph which ends this story is so brilliant I read it three times.
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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful By J. Loscheider VINE VOICE on January 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mueenuddin weaves a series of short stories around a wealthy Pakistani land-owning family of the old order, and the retainers, servants and heirs whose lives are centered around them. The stories take place during and following the sweeping social changes of the 20th century.

At his best, Mueenuddin narrates artfully on grand themes of fidelity and obsession while commenting on rampant corruption and substantial inequality in the patronage-based Pakistani class system. At times the prose borders on beautiful, telling enough details to picture, but not so many to slow the progression.

Several of his characters are profoundly likeable. The banter of the eponymous "Lily" made me think of a naughtier Audrey Hepburn sparring with herself as Princess Anne, and the choices of a young Sohail made me reflect upon the gravity of choices made while we are young. Such emotional proximity makes the tragedies painful, with victories scarce to come by and often at heavy price.

The stories are often so melancholy as to be cathartic. Lamentably, Mueenuddin sometimes loses the cathartic balance and tilts towards nihilism. His wealthy characters are often bored, their impoverished servants often desperate. Perhaps this is a resolute message, that the class system fails both so unutterably, choking the freedom of the individual for the sake of perpetuating itself, and yet rich and poor alike cling to fatalistic destiny without knowing of another way to live.

At times even the purpose of the stories seem to get lost, and I found myself asking "Daniyal, are you trying to tell me something important, or is this merely a nostalgiac vignette?
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By sb-lynn TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This terrific book is made up of short stories that are linked, and you see some of the same characters at different points in time and place. It's not that easy to do, but Mueensuddin pulls it off perfectly, and you get to know each character in almost a Rashamon way - through their own eyes and through those of others. If you think that you really dislike or favor someone, just wait. You may think differently later on.

These stories have locations in common too, and the majority of the book takes place near Lahore, on the farmlands of a wealthy Pakistani family. We are shown what life is like for the poor, and for the rich. We become acquainted with landowners, and the workers and servants, and how bad luck or one bad decision can result in catastrophe. Success and happiness in life often depends on the circumstances of one's birth, and the reader gets a lesson about Pakistani culture, and its harshness, its dependence on knowing the right people, and its fatalism. And throw luck into the mix. And because the stories take place at different times, we see how modernization has affected Pakistan - and how some things remain the same.

If you were a fan of A Fine Balance (one of my favorite books), or The God of Small Things, I can *guarantee* that you will love this book. Like those great novels, this one can be both heartbreaking and funny, and many times you will be smiling at some amusing passage only to be devastated by the next.

One other thing to add - I am not, in general, a big fan of short stories. If you feel this way too, do not be put off by the fact this is a book of stories. Both because the book is so well-written, and because the stories share commonality of characters and place, it reads like a novel.

So, highly, highly recommended. This is going down as one of my top reads of the year. It's that good. (And you'll be hooked from page one - another big plus.)
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