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In Other Rooms, Other Wonders Paperback – November 16, 2009
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― New York Times Book Review
"In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is a collection full of pleasures…on every page there are wonderful, surprising observations and details."
― Washington Post
"The eight short stories of Daniyal Mueenuddin’s enchanting debut are dreamlike, illuminating contemporary Pakistan’s societal contradictions in prose as clear and serene as the contradictions themselves are subtle and tumultuous."
― Boston Globe
"Like Turgenev…Mueenuddin has an eye for the tragedy and beauty in lives that a lesser writer might regard merely as miserable or eccentric…In recent years, Pakistan has been regarded in the West with anger and horror. Perhaps Mueenuddin’s portrait will help to bring it a different kind of attention, colored with sorrow and even fondness."
― New York Review of Books
"Remarkable.… a poignant picture of Punjabi life."
― The Economist
"[Mueenuddin’s] crisp, vivid voice glides effortlessly into his various characters’ heads.… Dark stuff, but full of beauty."
― Entertainment Weekly
"An elegant stylist with a light touch, Mueenuddin invites the reader to a richly human, wondrous experience."
― Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"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."
― Manil Suri
"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."
― Mohsin Hamid
"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."
― Elizabeth Evans, author of Carter Clay
About the Author
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (November 16, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0393337200
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393337204
- Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #230,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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interlocking stories of varying lengths. It's slim, easy to read, and
yet evokes characters and settings richly and well. All of the
stories are connected in some way to the wealthy Harouni family, where
they owned land for a century that is now being sold off to support
them. Not only the wealthy family members come to life -- we also see
their servants, spouses, and other connections. The author seems to
put us inside their relationships, especially romantic ones. The
class differences between the wealthy dilettantes and the striving
poor are clear, but all are prone to corruption and taking whatever
they can. The area around the lovely city of Lahore where most of the
stories take place comes to life. The stories are mostly set in the
80s, before life there became subject to corruption. So real are
these people to me that I can't help wondering where they've ended up
now that so much has changed. My favorite story was the longest one,
"Lily", where we experience a relationship begin, result in marriage,
and then experience the couple's disappointment with each other.
Both men and women are deeply described. The author turns phrases
beautifully, and made me wish that one could return to Lahore. I look
forward to reading his work in the future, and recommend this book highly
to anyone interested in Pakistan, or just in great stories of life there.
The depiction of life in the shantytowns, or, a cut above, at the servants' level--there are many levels within the servant class alone--are vivid and fascinating to read; without cliché, they ring true and contain surprises. There are no purely bad or good characters; the delight is in the nuances. A poor man builds a transient home for himself which is too small to stand up in, but he's clever, and the tiny dwelling has some charm.
In my favorite story, Nawabdin Electrician, the protagonist is the local electrician, who knows everything there is to know about bootleg wiring and is therefore extremely valuable to his village. The scene in which he talks his boss into buying him a motorbike is a work of art; and we are treated to many other examples of the clever manipulations of the serving class. The bosses aren't fooled, and the whole system of favors is as well established as any set of written law. But people can fall through the cracks so easily, and you come away with a picture of a huge underclass of people whose lives and welfare, no matter how sharp their wits, hang by a thread.
Top reviews from other countries
This is a Pakistan that is seldom seen in the media. We see the status that a new motor cycle confers on a talented electrician, and the sexual shenanigans going on in all levels of society. For the servants, this is often used to gain security (usually with little success) while for the young, rich, it's often from boredom and as a kind of rebellion against the traditional expectations. I was surprised that religion plays almost no part in these stories, but then that probably illustrates the impact that the media has had on our views of Pakistani life.
Each story quickly gets you into the lives of these people who experience life in vastly different ways - which is no small achievement - and this beautifully demonstrates the complexity of the reality. The individual parts are each superb but the collected whole is so much better. If pushed to pick a favourite, then Our Lady of Paris is as perfect a short story as I think I have ever read.
Superb. Highly recommended and I look forward to more from this author for whom this is a staggeringly assured debut.