In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin

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Synopsis

Finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in Fiction: a major literary debut that explores class, culture, power, and desire among the ruling and servant classes of Pakistan.


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.
 

About Daniyal Mueenuddin

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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.
 
Published January 8, 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company. 249 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

Kirkus Reviews

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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.

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The New York Times

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In the only story in which the main characters are of similar social status, Lily, a girl from a reputable Punjabi family who has spent her youth attending stylish parties and having casual sex, hopes to improve herself morally by marrying a kind, hard-working man of her own class.

Feb 06 2009 | Read Full Review of In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

Publishers Weekly

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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 re...

Nov 17 2008 | Read Full Review of In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

Entertainment Weekly

A– Originally posted Jan 21, 2009 Published in issue #1032-1033 Jan 30, 2009 Order article reprints

Jan 28 2009 | Read Full Review of In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

The Telegraph

Death haunts the book as it .

Jun 02 2009 | Read Full Review of In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

The Bookbag

Summary: A readable, luminous, economical and utterly absorbing picture of Pakistani society told in stories of lives of interconnected characters, from the rural poor to the jet-setting rich.

Oct 24 2009 | Read Full Review of In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

Review (Barnes & Noble)

The conventional wisdom that nobody cares about short story collections has more than a few shreds of truth (per Stephen King, editor of 2007's Best American Short Stories: "American short story alive?

Feb 11 2009 | Read Full Review of In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

Tampa Bay Times

In the collection's latter half, Mueenuddin moves to the city-bred relatives of Harouni, people who "knew everyone of a certain class in Karachi, went to dinners and to the polo and to all the fashionable weddings, flew often to Lahore and Islamabad, and summered in London."

Jun 19 2009 | Read Full Review of In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

London Review of Books

Husna is desperate to escape from her father’s house in the Old City into this space of privilege and leisure, to leave behind the ‘bare concrete steps, layered with dust’ and ‘rooms without windows, the walls painted bright glossy colours, as if to make up for the gloom’.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Elaine Margolin Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars "These connected stories show us what life is like for both the rich and the desperately poor in Mueenuddin’s country, and the result is a kind of miniaturized Pakistani ‘human comedy.’ … On every page there are wonderful, surprising observations ...

Jan 26 2009 | Read Full Review of In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

Oprah.com

In his debut collection, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, Daniyal Mueenuddin, a young Pakistani writer, manages to make tangible the persistence of the ancient in the face of the modern.

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