Org Mueenuddin has put together a collection of stories that offers a less than flattering portrait of Pakistan. But while the social structures that come under his gaze are less than ideal, his writing is top notch, his ability to create memorable and accessible characters is superb. The organizing methodology here is that each of the stories connects with K. Harouni, patriarch of a family in a declining landed class. He is almost an innocent, not Daniyal Mueenuddin - image from Bidoun.
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Luckily for us, his collection of eight related stories more than satisfies. While In Other Rooms, Other Wonders can be read as a study in contrasts, from the socialite wedding in "Lily" to the marriage between a groundskeeper and a villager in "A Spoiled Man", they reveal more similarities than differences. The effects of a feudal past on its inheritors would provide enough material for several books; Mueenuddin focuses on the drama in a handful of households, where drug abuse, murder, liaisons and the threat of cobras are equally at home with trips to the theater.
The repetition of this theme could weigh on readers sensitive to the suggestion that sex is for bargaining, but Mueenuddin handles the subject especially well.
The beauty of these stories is found in the absence of generalizations, and in the inclusion of telling details. Mueenuddin often uses sudden twists-of-fate -- the appearance of a gunman, revelation of terminal illness, the timely arrival of a letter -- to catalyze the drama in his stories. As in the best collections, the stories enhance each other, forging connections between recurrent characters and building a world where real locations like Islamabad and Lahore blend with imagined households.
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BookBrowse Reviews In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders