BOOK REVIEW ON:
Daniyal Mueenuddin’s “IN OTHER ROOMS, OTHER WONDERS”
By Nayan Das
Much like “tambola”, there are only a few happy winners from the hundreds that compete in Pakistan’s social lottery, and that is aptly brought forward in Daniyal Mueenuddin’s “In Other Rooms, Other Wonders.” Very unlike the Pakistan we have accustomed ourselves with, goaded by gloriously buttered food and hard-hitting Pathans, the book shows us how life is in Mueenuddin’s country for both the supremely rich and harshly poor. After attending Dartmouth and Yale, Mueenuddin completed this book on settling down in his farmland just outside Khanpur. His contribution towards the book is immense, which can be seen in the crude out-pour of emotions encased within its pages. Daniyal Mueenudin might very well be on his way in being seen as Pakistan’s most read writer, and indeed acting as a reference and an inspiration for upcoming writers in his brethren. All the stories from In Other Rooms, Other Wonders are linked by a shared connection to the person of K.K. Harouni: an old-style Lahore feudal landowner, patron and grand old man. Some are connected rather vaguely – the characters might be his distant relatives or even their employees; in others K.K. Harouni appears himself. These connected stories are the result of a kind of miniaturized Pakistani "human comedy." In the original Comédie humaine, Balzac had the ingenious notion of tying his various novels together by using recurrent characters. The protagonist is subsequently glimpsed in passing or sometimes just referred to in several other books. In like fashion, Mueenuddin interlaces eight stories, while also linking them to the household of a wealthy and self-satisfied landowner. The story begins (in a fashion similar to “Malgudi Days”, where R. K. Narayanan introduces a crux character in a short humorous tale) with "Nawabdin Electrician", a man passionate and determined in serving his land master and an ace in fixing problematic...
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