In the last couple of years we have had many Pakistani authors who have made an impressive debut and have been lapped up by Indian readers with gusto!What makes them so interesting?I believe besides good writing its also a curiosity value with the Indians...We want to know the lives people live there,how different is it from ours. So as it comes from a Pakistani writer I had to read it!
A bit about the author :Daniyal Mueenuddin was brought up in Lahore,Pakistan and Elroy,Wisconsin.His stories have appeared in The New Yorker,Granta,Zoetrope, and The Best American Short Stories 2008 selected by Salman Rushdie.He has practiced law in New York for a number of years but now lives on a farm in Pakistan's southern Punjab.
In Other Rooms,Other Wonders is a collection of eight short stories. These stories are linked to the household of a wealthy landowner named K.K. Harouni. All the stories reveal the complexities of Pakistan's class and culture.The difference between the rich and the poor.A look at the haves and have not.Mueenuddin has managed through these short stories to portray this divide.It almost reminds you of the similarities of the rich thakurs and landowners in India.
The epigraph to In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is a Punjabi proverb: "Three things for which we kill -- Land, women and gold." and every story goes on to prove just that! Its the survival of the fittest. Everyone in the book is more or less corrupt. It is the huge class difference that leads the servants,drivers and people working for Harouni to cheat on him and thus leading to disastrous and unhappy endings.The unhappy endings are a result of their increasing lust for more power and wealth. Whether it is the slimy accountant who while being efficient is also thieving from his boss or Husna who comes with a purpose and is left with nothing after Harouni's death.Happiness is very short-lived as every story has a desolate and harsh end.
While the book is a very well written debut effort and definitely marks another impressive innings by an author from Pakistan it may fail to click with the readers.What goes against the book is the unhappiness,the bitterness,the selfishness of the characters.The book shows the wretchedness of their existence!While it does hold the mirror to the actual realities that exist, but in life, truth is a bitter pill to swallow.
I enjoyed reading the book and looking forward to more titles in the future from Daniyal Mueenuddin.