download Textbooks In Other Rooms, Other WondersAuthor Daniyal Mueenuddin – Bilb-weil.de

A major literary debut that explores class, culture, power, and desire among the ruling and servant classes of PakistanIn the spirit of Joyce s Dubliners and Turgenev s A Sportsman s Sketches, Daniyal Mueenuddin s collection of linked stories illuminates a place and a people through an examination of the entwined lives of landowners and their retainers on the Gurmani family farm in the countryside outside of Lahore, Pakistan An aging feudal landlord s household staff, the villagers who depend on his favor, and a network of relations near and far who have sought their fortune in the cities confront the advantages and constraints of station, the dissolution of old ways, and the shock of change Mueenuddin bares at times humorously, at times tragically the complexities of Pakistani class and culture and presents a vivid picture of a time and a place, of the old powers and the new, as the Pakistani feudal order is undermined and transformed


10 thoughts on “In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

  1. Will Byrnes Will Byrnes says:

    Daniyal Mueenuddin image from Bidoun.OrgMueenuddin 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.K Harouni, patriarch of a family in a declining landed class He is almost an innocent, not noticin Daniyal Mueenuddin image from Bidoun.OrgMueenuddin 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.K Harouni, patriarch of a family in a declining landed class He is almost an innocent, not noticing that his servants are taking extreme, and criminal advantage of him Were he to say he was shocked, shocked to learn that his servants were stealing from him he would be saying it honestly Yet corruption is ubiquitous in this world Who in Mueenuddin s Pakistan is able to get beyond their gender roles and sclerotic class structure In Our Lady of Paris, the young, American educated Sohail tries to do so, in a way, by marrying an American, but her conservative mother puts the kibosh on that He later marries another American, but once married, she pretty much goes native, so represents an infusion of DNA rather than actual change In Lily, the character of the title was and remains a spoiled urban child In A Spoiled Man, the elderly Rezak, who is ultimately content with his place, is abused when, at least in his own mind, he aspires to somethingWomen have to sleep with higher level servants in households in order to get by But even when they corral a member of a higher class, it ultimately ends badly for them Corruption is rampant In Provide, Provide a trusted servant is really a serpent In A Spoiled Man we learn of a business that the police engage in outside their legal duties Mueenuddin s Pakistan is firmly rooted in its feudal past and those who would attempt to become bridges to the future fare poorly While the stories here would certainly go a long way to influencing one to cancel any relocation plans, they are tales beautifully told, with engaging, rounded characters Through their eyes we get to know a bit of what the country is all about The American, Helen, commenting on her fianc e, Sohail, notes that he is nicer in America, It is easier to be gentle in a place where there s order As chaos spread like a malignancy in today s Pakistan, one might expect a dearth of gentility for quite some time to come But at least one writer is attempting to create some order and beauty from the mess


  2. Teresa Teresa says:

    Perhaps it s not the best idea to learn contemporary sociology from fictional short stories, but it s not a bad place to start if the stories are as good as these Twentieth and early 21st century Pakistan is presented here through the eyes of the landowners and their peons All levels of society the middle class is glancingly represented in the landowners managers work the system, some in order to survive, others to get as much as they can The rich aren t necessarily getting richer, Perhaps it s not the best idea to learn contemporary sociology from fictional short stories, but it s not a bad place to start if the stories are as good as these Twentieth and early 21st century Pakistan is presented here through the eyes of the landowners and their peons All levels of society the middle class is glancingly represented in the landowners managers work the system, some in order to survive, others to get as much as they can The rich aren t necessarily getting richer, in some cases they are merely keeping up appearances,important to them than actually working.Memorable female characters, who use their youth and sex appeal in similar ways, are the focus of some of the stories Though the families they come from and the men they use and who use them are different from each other, their stories are basically the same intentional, I m sure As shown in About a Burning Girl, the girl is the last thing any of the men are considering That said, I may end up remembering longer the older male characters one who encounters bewildering, startling violence from anotherdesperate than he is and one who, after well meaning types try to help him, experiences the same kind of violence from corrupt policemen.Depicting a society where protocol and the family you come from means so much though increasingly not as much as it used to , the author s use of recurring characters and their descendants is effective Subtle metaphors point out that change is not only a struggle that comes with a cost but that it is also frustratingly hard to achieve, if at all.A sense of place is very strong in all the stories, including one set in France


  3. Hugh Hugh says:

    This collection of stories is insightful and by turns luminous and bleak Mueenuddin takes the stories of a wide range of people, from poor servants to the landed rich, to form a cross section of Pakistani society, the common thread being their relationship to an old aristocratic land owner and his family It is full of poetic detail and Mueenuddin s characters are complex, fully realised and sympathetic, but the overall picture is of a divided society in which very few stories have happy ending This collection of stories is insightful and by turns luminous and bleak Mueenuddin takes the stories of a wide range of people, from poor servants to the landed rich, to form a cross section of Pakistani society, the common thread being their relationship to an old aristocratic land owner and his family It is full of poetic detail and Mueenuddin s characters are complex, fully realised and sympathetic, but the overall picture is of a divided society in which very few stories have happy endings Considering the setting, the stories feel very secular, with very few overtly religious elements it is muchabout families, money, power and influence I suspect that many of these stories would stand up well to multiple readings


  4. Furqan Furqan says:

    Overrated, pretentious twaddle I am surprised at the amount of positive reviews this short story collection seems to be receiving, with some over enthusiastic reviewers comparing Mueenuddin s prose to that of Salman Rushdie, which I find very hilarious Rushdie s prose is complex, lyrical and iridescent, whereas Mueenuddin s prose is restrained in a bad way and the sentences irregular and pointy that it stings your eyes to read them The dialogue could be best described as theatrical and conf Overrated, pretentious twaddle I am surprised at the amount of positive reviews this short story collection seems to be receiving, with some over enthusiastic reviewers comparing Mueenuddin s prose to that of Salman Rushdie, which I find very hilarious Rushdie s prose is complex, lyrical and iridescent, whereas Mueenuddin s prose is restrained in a bad way and the sentences irregular and pointy that it stings your eyes to read them The dialogue could be best described as theatrical and confusing, I kept thinking who on the earth talks like that in Pakistan I concede that few descriptive passages does evoke a sense of rural Pakistan , but it is is hardly worth praising when you consider the flimsy plots, repetitive themes and unconvincing characters.The stories are obviously targeted for western audience, perhaps with the intention of portraying an exotic image of Pakistan, miles away from the violent and fundamentalist image that western media seem to purport Well, it doesn t do a very good job of it Almost every character is devoid of any scruples There are sordid old men perving after younger women and one might actually sympathise with the women for being so dependent on men, yet they are equally as bad as men, actively manipulating and seducing them, not caring that they might be cheating on their husbands Basically, it is shown that for a woman to gain stability or climb the social ladder in such a patriarchal society, all they have to do is open their legs to any man who can provide them with these assurances, which is a very bleak outlook for Pakistani women The role of religion is blatantly ignored In fact, Islam is hardly mentioned when it forms such a huge part of people s public and private life Most of the stories are concerned with a land owning feudal family and the peasants who work for them the elites and the poor, who tend to be the least religious of all people It s the middle classes millions of them residing in city flats or suburbia, who are the most religious, economically independent and do not owe any allegiance to a moronic feudal lord, but are found to be conveniently ignored by Mueenuddin, which is disappointing.In short, I hate this book and would not recommend


  5. Ruby Ruby says:

    Good Read Clear, easy to follow, and very well written Only one small problem and maybe this is a problem that only applies to me I felt like I was reading a book by Jhumpa Lahiri, or Anita Desai, or even Salman Rushdie It seems, to me, that many authors from the far east are feeding off of each others literary techniques What is it about brown authors using the same style of writing The same extended metaphor that goes on for pages The flowery language that s used to describe every Good Read Clear, easy to follow, and very well written Only one small problem and maybe this is a problem that only applies to me I felt like I was reading a book by Jhumpa Lahiri, or Anita Desai, or even Salman Rushdie It seems, to me, that many authors from the far east are feeding off of each others literary techniques What is it about brown authors using the same style of writing The same extended metaphor that goes on for pages The flowery language that s used to describe every tiny detail I know many people appreciate this writing style, but I m a little tired of it I was looking forward to something original hey a book by a Pakistani author, about Pakistan Finally What I got a book about Pakistan, yes, but it could have just as easily been set in India And yes, to many the difference is insignificant and for the most part undetectable, but not to me Our histories are intertwined, but our cultures and very different.Unfortunately I went into this book thinking Mueenuddin would write about the Pakistani society I was brought up in that was probably my fault and I should not go into books assuming such things While he does write about the disparities between upper echelon of Pakistani society and dirt poor lower class he glosses over a very large part of the Pakistani middle class upper middle class and in doing so almost reinforces the social stratification in Pakistani society I m not blaming Mueenuddin for causing this disparity, but by not writing about those Pakistanis who dwell in Karachi and Islamabad and choose to abstain from alcohol sex other so called vices I think his work remains somewhat superficial This subgroup is actually incredibly significant as it basically represents how religion, politics, culture, tradition, and the push for modernity clash Maybe I m overly critical, and again, I m not blaming the author he probably grew up in the world of politicians and the Pakistani elite and had domestic help of his own, and therefore all he knew And maybe all he was trying to do was create a social commentary illustrating the disconnect between two specific social classes in Pakistan Who knows Maybe I just need to write a book about the Pakistanis that I am used to dealing with Regardless, I would still recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed short stories and learning about different cultures


  6. Tatiana Tatiana says:

    I know next to nothing about Pakistan, aside from the fact that this country seems to be overrun by terrorists, so reading this Pulitzer prize nominated collection of short stories gave me a new perspective on the country and people who live in it The eight loosely interconnected stories revolve around K.K Harouni a rich Pakistani landowner and a network of his servants, employees, relatives and opportunists In Saleema a young maid seeks patronage in Harouni s household in the beds of o I know next to nothing about Pakistan, aside from the fact that this country seems to be overrun by terrorists, so reading this Pulitzer prize nominated collection of short stories gave me a new perspective on the country and people who live in it The eight loosely interconnected stories revolve around K.K Harouni a rich Pakistani landowner and a network of his servants, employees, relatives and opportunists In Saleema a young maid seeks patronage in Harouni s household in the beds of older,influential servants, until she falls in love and is later discarded by the man who must honor his first family Nawabdin Electrician is a story of Harouni s electrician, Nawab, who confronts a violent assailant in order to protect his most valuable asset a motorbike the only thing which helps him support his huge family Lily is the chronicle of a party girl s attempt to cleanse her life by becoming a wife of a decent wealthy man, which fails as she realizes he is too good for her and she is incapable of change.As a whole the collection provides a vivid picture of Pakistan, with its sharp rift between classes, complex relationships between servants and masters, government corruption, and dependent position of women who are always vulnerable without the protection of family and marriage ties


  7. Anum S. Anum S. says:

    The first time I read this book a few years ago, I hated it with a passion I found it alternatively boring, infuriating, condescending or cynical What did you just make me read I complained to my best friend, who loved this book and was in turn amused and horrified by my vehement dislike of it Read it again she likes to say, whenever I hate a book she loves Because we both have such similar taste in books, it takes a while for us to accept the reality of our conflicting opinions about The first time I read this book a few years ago, I hated it with a passion I found it alternatively boring, infuriating, condescending or cynical What did you just make me read I complained to my best friend, who loved this book and was in turn amused and horrified by my vehement dislike of it Read it again she likes to say, whenever I hate a book she loves Because we both have such similar taste in books, it takes a while for us to accept the reality of our conflicting opinions about the same novel And even though time and experience has proven that rereading a horrible book rarely makes it any better for me, I thought I would give it a try anyway And the best I can now say about it is that I no longer hate it It has progressed from an Ugh, never again to a meh, never again , which seems like no big deal but in comparative terms shows huge progress A Tale of Eight Stories She had been a famous beauty, from a prominent, cultured Lucknow family Now at forty five she 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.There are eight loosely connected stories within this anthology, each one entirely obsessed with either the filthy rich or the disgustingly poor Apparently anyone earning a middle class income doesn t exist in the Pakistan that Daniyal Mueenuddin knows Husna brought her shabby luggage to the house, a brown suitcase bulging and strapped She had clothes and shoes, not much else, had arrived in a rickshaw the facts soon communicated through the house by the snickering community of washermen, drivers, sweepers, household servants.But ok fine Accusing an author of writing about either the rich or the poor only is a ridiculous argument to have, because millions of writers all over the world choose to write about a specific class of wealth and we don t bash them over the head with it So this problem hasto do with the fact that Pakistanis don t have enough books talking about themselves in all shapes and sizes than with Mueenuddin s writing.Within the stories, all our characters have either a very close or a distant, passing relationship to a singular man, K K Harouni, a feudal landowner slowly losing power as the times change The stories revolve around a network of his relatives, employees or servantsIf I ran away to the South Pole some Pakistani businessman would one day crawl into my igloo and ask if I was the cousin of K.K Harouni In the first story Nawabdin Electrician published in New Yorker, Best American Short Stories 2008 , Harouni s electrician in his village has a violent encounter with a thief who tries to steal his bike the second entry Saleema tells the story of a young maid in Harouni s household who seeks protection by seducing older servants, until she falls in love with the valet, who eventually chooses his family above her Holding the gun away at arm s length, he fired fivetimes, one two three four five, with Nawab looking up into his face, unbelieving, seeing the repeated flame in the revolver s mouth. Provide, provide published in Granta tells us about how Jaglani, a domineering man who takes care of Harouni s farms while also fattening his own pockets, falls in love with a servant girl About a Burning Girl tells the story through the eyes of a casually immoral man of a robbery gone wrong and how a favoured servant is saved He feared Zainab, strangely enough, although he had made a career of fearing no one and of thereby dominating this lawless area Sometimes he thought that it would be a relief to be rid of her, and yet his love kept increasing.The titular story In other Rooms, Other Wonders published in New Yorker takes us to Harouni s own bedside where we read about his affair with a young girl from a lower social class, and her eventual fall from grace Our Lady of Paris shows a young American girl falling in love with a Pakistani guy, and finding herself at odds with her complicated eventual mother in law For a moment Husna and K.K looked at each other for the first time he thought of her as a grown up, as a woman and for the first time she thought of him as a lover, sick and possibly dying.The last two stories tackle two completely different classes of wealth In Lily a spoiled party girl tries to let go of her past through marriage but ends up with the stark realization that she is incapable of changing A Spoiled Man tells the story of a poor man who lives alone until his marriage to a simple girl, whose eventual disappearance leads to a lot of pain and eventual death for him As a whole, the collection is random and disjointed and not much fun to read And even though in some places it provides points to ponder away, those come too rarely or are too weakly written to do the whole collection justice In Other Rooms, Other Yawn Inducing PeopleA major problem in this collection was my lack of connection with any single character I could not have cared less about what happened to any of them in any of the stories Literally could not haveI was born into a comfortably well off family All my life I ve been lucky, my business succeeded, I ve had no tragedies, my wife and I are happy, we have a wonderful son The one thing I ve missed, I sometimes feel, is the sensation of being absolutely free, to do exactly what I like, to go where I like, to act as I like Even when something relatable comes along, it s cloaked within drama that verges on the boring or the petty The privileged whine within their little perfect bubbles while the poor are caricatures, either corrupt and seedy, or else content and naive There is no complexity to either class Jaglani had lived an opportunistic life, seizing power wherever he saw it available and unguarded, and therefore he had not developed sentimental attachments to the tokens of his power, land, possessions, or even men.Worse still, there is a sense of falsification Mueenuddin s position of privilege and wealth is obvious when he writes about the lower class, who apparently know no love and have no ties of loyalty, who form no proper friendships and have no sense of family The poor in this book seem to be what rich people imagine poor people to be like they are an imitation of a rich man s view from a distant, and do a disservice to those whom he writes aboutI was brought up with slaps and harsh words We had nothing, we were poor My father sold vegetables from a cart, but when he began smoking heroin he sold everything, the cart, his bicycle, the radio, even the dishes in the kitchen The Sometimes Good, Not All Bad Cultural CommentaryThe one thing that s done well are the conversations Mueenuddin has with the reader about the times, the culture, the ambience he produces She would even have sought a place in the demimonde of singers and film actresses, bright and dangerous creatures from poor backgrounds, but she had neither talent nor beauty This sort of throwback to the times of the rise of the cinema in the country, and the era of the actresses who came from poor backgrounds and made their claim to fame through the silver screen, this roots the stories within the times they are set in Mueenuddin also uses the story format to his benefit when he is describing the inescapable gap between the lives of the rich and the poor Even though most of the criticism against his book rests on the author s decided ignorance of the lives of the middle class, he shows the class divide between those whom he chooses to show really well The old man did not merely lack interest in the affairs of the servants he was not conscious that they had lives outside his purview.He also threads corruption very casually into his stories, another point I found myself debating about On the one hand, is there no one who is morally ambiguous but tilting towards the good But on the other, is this really a reflection of the times we had back then Mueenuddin certainly seems to think so One of my small indulgences, now that I am a member of the judiciary,is to allow myself airs with people who need favors from me I gave him my hand with a loose wrist, as if expecting him to kiss it, and stood on one cocked heel The RecommendationThis book won, was nominated for or was a finalist of a ridiculous number of really famous awards Pulitzer, Commonwealth, LA Times Book Prize, so on and so forth And the only thing I have to say to that is why Throughout this book I kept feeling like I should love it because so many people seem to love it but at every page the dominating feeling was an overwhelming nope There is a lot of telling, too much history too quickly, excessive background description instead of letting the narrative tell the story, and an overall sense of rambling Basically, it s not worth the hype If you re a non Pakistani reader, take it with a grain of salt If you re a Pakistani reader, I d say give this one a miss I talk about Pakistani Fiction and would love to talk to people who like to talk about fiction Pakistani and otherwise, take your pick To read this complete review, check outreviews or just contact me so you can talk about books, check out my Blog or follow me on Twitter


  8. LindaJ^ LindaJ^ says:

    I m quite ambiguous about this book Stylistically, I liked it The stories engaged me and I found them easy to read But I kept wondering if they were truly representing life in Pakistan The eight stories concern the rich and the poor In many instances, we see the interaction between the two classes and the poor seem to always get screwed in some fashion The most likeable characters for me were the two American women one who initially thought she wanted to marry the pleasant, young, rich P I m quite ambiguous about this book Stylistically, I liked it The stories engaged me and I found them easy to read But I kept wondering if they were truly representing life in Pakistan The eight stories concern the rich and the poor In many instances, we see the interaction between the two classes and the poor seem to always get screwed in some fashion The most likeable characters for me were the two American women one who initially thought she wanted to marry the pleasant, young, rich Pakistani guy and one who actually did marry him perhaps because I could relate to them I know nothing about Pakistan and I hope these stories do not represent what the country is like If so, then it seems that without power, money, and connections, one is in for a pretty miserable existence I purchased this paperback in 2010 on sale It has set on my shelf undisturbed for six years I finally read it as it is one of the September selections for one of my Goodreads groups I look forward to discussing it with that group and may adjust my review after that discussion


  9. Abby Abby says:

    Most of these stories are not stories Stories have a beginning, middle, and end They are propelled by characterization, suspense, plot, and insights Some of the stories, most notably Our Lady of Paris, seem to be pastiches of thoughts strung together Yes, the author knows what he s talking about As a member of the Pakistani jet set, the son of an American mother and a Pakistani father, and a graduate of Dartmouth and Yale, he is well qualified to write about the gossipy failings and foibles Most of these stories are not stories Stories have a beginning, middle, and end They are propelled by characterization, suspense, plot, and insights Some of the stories, most notably Our Lady of Paris, seem to be pastiches of thoughts strung together Yes, the author knows what he s talking about As a member of the Pakistani jet set, the son of an American mother and a Pakistani father, and a graduate of Dartmouth and Yale, he is well qualified to write about the gossipy failings and foibles of the international leisure class But how does this group differ from other groups of similar wealth and privilege as a result of their religion, background, or geographic origin


  10. Greg Zimmerman Greg Zimmerman says:

    You ve never read anything like this slim volume of eight interconnected short stories about life in modern Pakistan I can almost guarantee it Rescued from obscurity by its 2009 National Book Award nomination, Daniyal Mueenuddin s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is a blend of portraits of Pakistani people, both rich and poor The effect is a holistic image of everyday life in a country stuck in an seemingly endless loop of feudalism and class struggle.Mueenuddin, who was born to a Pakistani fath You ve never read anything like this slim volume of eight interconnected short stories about life in modern Pakistan I can almost guarantee it Rescued from obscurity by its 2009 National Book Award nomination, Daniyal Mueenuddin s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is a blend of portraits of Pakistani people, both rich and poor The effect is a holistic image of everyday life in a country stuck in an seemingly endless loop of feudalism and class struggle.Mueenuddin, who was born to a Pakistani father and American mother, spent seven years after college at Dartmouth trying to untangle the twisted network of kickbacks, favors, and below the level law enforcement at his father s farm in Pakistan This experience the basis for these stories seems to have jaded Muennuddin a bit, as evidenced by a theme setting Punjabi proverb included at the beginning of the book Three things for which we kill Land, women and gold The strength of the book, no doubt due to Mueenuddin s dual nationality, is how these stories cross the cultural divide When a story focuses on the servant class, American readers have no trouble understanding these Pakistanis, their lot in life and their struggle to rise That s true even if you re revolted by the male dominated society and poor treatment of women When these characters do bad things like commit adultery, or steal from their bosses it s still not hard to comprehend why Sometimes there is no other choice Sometimes it s a calculated strategy to try to move up.In one story, a young woman, whose previously rich family has fallen on tough times, believes herself to be entitled to wealth and comfort So she seduces the rich landowner Harouni who is the common denominator in all the stories , takes him as her lover, and takes advantage of his generosity However, when he dies, Harouni s scornful family turns her out completely Now, her poverty is accompanied by evenshame Similarly, in one heartbreaking story, a woman finally turns her life around by working hard as a servant at the rich landowner s house, only to wind up back on the streets as a heroin addicted prostitute when Harouni dies.So, the idea seems to be that if you re among the lower class, even if you adapt to the system, your margins still are rather thin Your entire life and well being is dependent on the whims and fate of your landowning boss My favorite passage in the book sums up the dependency of servants on their masters It is also emblematic of Mueenuddin s beautiful, elegant prose Gone, and they the servants would never find another berth like this one, the gravity of the house, the gentleness of the master, the vast damp rooms, the slow lugubrious pace, the order within disorder Several stories also focus on the upper class The longest story in the collection, for instance, is about a rich Paris Hilton like character who spends all her time partying, ordering servants around and living off her parents wealth Another story focuses on the son of a rich landowner, who is dating an American girl These stories are okay, but don t match the pathos and poignancy of the stories about the servants.Mueenuddin s writing and storytelling reach their pinnacle in the last story of the collection, my favorite An old man, who has worked hard his whole life, finally catches a break when he s hired on as gardener at one of Harouni s farms Newly wealthy in relative terms , he hopes to sire a son, so he takes a deal to marry a mentally challenged girl, believing it to be his only chance to carry forth his name The simple girl, though, promptly runs away When he reports this to the police, he is beaten and accused of killing her So even when things begin to look up for the poor man, the system beats him back down It s the sad reality for life in the lower class in Pakistan, and these stories illuminate that brilliantly This is an important book, and highly, highly recommended