Must-read Pakistani Novel
There has been an explosion of Pakistani authors writing about all kinds of issues from politics, identity, immigration and belonging. It has taken me a shamefully long time to read this novel, but I’m glad I saved it to read over the holidays.
Daniyal Mueenuddin’s collection of short stories, In Other Rooms Other Wonders, is a maginificant encapsulation of the diversity of Pakistani life. Very simply, I read a lot about Pakistan in a historical or political context or Pakistanis in disapora, and now we have a beautifully written novel about Pakistanis from the mud-walled huts of the Punjab to the apartments of Paris. If you want to understand Pakistan in a truly nuanced way beyond op-eds read this novel, if you haven’t already.
Here’s a snippet of reviews:
NYT: 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.
The Telegraph: The writing here has a clarifying beauty: two labourers climb on a pile of wheat, “their bare feet digging into the hot grain, sinking to their knees”; a middle-class woman has a laugh that “while it did not seem entirely genuine, by its musicality caused the hearer to join her in a heightened response”. This is a marvellous collection.
The Wall Street Journal: Much as Isaac Bashevis Singer recreated the lost Jewish shtetl in many of his short stories, Mr. Mueenuddin unveils a nuanced world where social status and expectations are understood without being stated, and where poverty and the desire to advance frame each critical choice.
The views expressed by the author are personal.
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