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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `it's as difficult to have a meaningful life with a lot of money as without'
Wow! - this is an extraordinary collection of short stories. Even more extraordinary, since I've now looked him up and find that this is Daniyal Mueenuddin's debut as an author.

After reading the first story in this collection, which are all linked somehow to Mr K K Harouini or his houses or retinue, I was pleased that I had started reading. By the end I was...
Published on 19 Aug 2009 by purpleheart

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Life in wealthy Pakistan
Rather curious writing style but it gives what I imagine to be a good view of life amongst the wealthier classes in contemporary Pakistan with their large houses and plenty of servants
Published 17 months ago by mr robert angell


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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `it's as difficult to have a meaningful life with a lot of money as without', 19 Aug 2009
By 
purpleheart (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Wow! - this is an extraordinary collection of short stories. Even more extraordinary, since I've now looked him up and find that this is Daniyal Mueenuddin's debut as an author.

After reading the first story in this collection, which are all linked somehow to Mr K K Harouini or his houses or retinue, I was pleased that I had started reading. By the end I was simply astonished at the achievement.

Mueenudin's device allows him to explore different classes and types within Pakistan; from the old and new Punjabi farmers to the industrialists, from the upper class educated at Yale or Oxford and used to spending time in London and New York, to the servants and hangers on depending on patronage and the giving and receiving of favours in a society that's moved from the feudal to a new mobility in a staggeringly short period.

Corruption is everywhere. Those who are not calculating are cheated - Sohail, the nephew of MR K K Hourani, who has been shielded from much, is described as `a lamb fattened for the slaughter' by his own doting mother to his American girlfriend.

There is love but it is helpless against the stronger forces of family, money and status. As Sohail himself quotes `but the dull need to make some kind of house/ out of the life lived and the love spent'.

Women get a raw deal in this collection; the working class trade sex for advancement, food and clothes but it's transitory. The better born and moneyed are still dependent and bored by their restrictions or their revolt from those restrictions.

The language alters to suit the subjects of each story. It is simple, straightforward and earthy in the narrative of Nawabdin Electrician (who incidentally seems to have the only happy marriage in this book), and has resonances to match the voices of the more westernised and sophisticated dialogue in the stories Lily and Our Lady of Paris.

This collection reminded me of by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's The Thing Around Your Neck, in that they give such a rich evocation of one country and its past (here Pakistan, in the other collection, Nigeria) and then juxtaposes that with the modern day and an American, rather than British colonial view.

I've been reading other Pakistani authors recently; Kamila Sahmsie and Nadeem Aslam. Mueenuddin is in the same league.

If this book were a novel rather than a collection of short stories I am sure it would be up for the big prizes. It deserves them.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In each story, many wonders, 27 April 2010
By 
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Paperback)
This is a wonderful collection of eight short stories all loosely related to the household of a Pakistani land owner's estate. Each story is almost perfectly formed with a clear arc of a story and a poignant ending. We hear about the lives of the poorest servants as well as the land owners and their rich offspring. Everyone is trying to make the most out of what they have - trying to maintain their wealth, status, or power, all set against a fascinating change in society where the feudal system still hangs on - just. What is fascinating to the western reader is that there is no real middle class - and so the gaps in who has what are immense and largely unsurmountable.

This is a Pakistan that is seldom seen in the media. We see the status that a new motor cycle confers on a talented electrician, and the sexual shenanigans going on in all levels of society. For the servants, this is often used to gain security (usually with little success) while for the young, rich, it's often from boredom and as a kind of rebellion against the traditional expectations. I was surprised that religion plays almost no part in these stories, but then that probably illustrates the impact that the media has had on our views of Pakistani life.

Each story quickly gets you into the lives of these people who experience life in vastly different ways - which is no small achievement - and this beautifully demonstrates the complexity of the reality. The individual parts are each superb but the collected whole is so much better. If pushed to pick a favourite, then Our Lady of Paris is as perfect a short story as I think I have ever read.

Superb. Highly recommended and I look forward to more from this author for whom this is a staggeringly assured debut.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crystalline, spare prose, 2 Sep 2010
By 
Patrick - - - (Waterloo, Belgique) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Paperback)
Having lived in Lahore and Chitral and ploughed my way through my share of "Pakistan for foreigners" novels of varying quality, I opened this book in a somewhat sceptical mindset. I was quickly converted. Muneeuddin has achieved a striking tour de force, managing to being to life characters drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds using the sparest of prose. Every word struck me as if chiselled out of solid granite. This book has been polished and repolished so that no single unnecessary word remains, dispensing with distractions, allowing us to focus on the essential humanity of every protagonist. While it is a decent introduction to Pakistan's peculiar institution of rural feudalism, it transcends its time and place. Like Isaac Bashevis Singer's short stories, it builds the universal out of an earthy ethnic substrate.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars taking care of yourself in Pakistan, 4 Jan 2010
By 
R. M. Huisman (France) - See all my reviews
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Remarkably lively description of attitudes in all levels of Pakistani society. It is as if you would have visited the country. It is not a rosy view but the slightly interconnected stories are revealing of the similarities and differences at the various levels of the population.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best I have ever read, 30 May 2009
By 
Samee Zafar (London) - See all my reviews
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Absoltuley beautiful, enchanting, and amazingly original. Every character touches the heart. Probably the best stories I have ever read. There is a touch of genius here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic and complex short story collection, 2 Sep 2011
By 
LKR (Boston, MA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Paperback)
It's hard to describe what this book is 'about', since what you feel at the beginning of each story is so very different from how you feel at the end. Loosely about a collection of characters in and around Islamabad, Pakistan whose lives don't so much as intersect as lie adjacent. It's very intricately done -- you don't see the building blocks of this household and its occupants until you've sat back a bit and let it digest. It's very rich. Give yourself plenty of time with this book. You will want to re-read each story several times to get newer and newer layers of meaning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much to wonder about, 9 Jan 2011
By 
Ms. Mary H. Smith (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Paperback)
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is a great collection of short stories. Each story stands alone but they are all linked as they are about the relatives and servants of wealthy Pakistani landowner Mr K K Harouni whose estates are near Lahore. The writing is crisp and unsentimental, the characters are authentic if not always sympathetic and you will find yourself still thinking about them long after the book is finished. If you only want to read stories with happy endings then this is not for you but if you want a very real insight into life in Pakistan across all the class divisions then this is a must-read of a book. Although the stories are sometimes tragic, there are touches of humour throughout. I wish I could write like Daniyal Mueenduddin. Reviewed by Mary Smith author of No More Mulberries
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 4 Dec 2010
This review is from: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Paperback)
Usually with short stories I read one or two in between reading other things but with this I had to read them straight through - wonderful stories. Each story stands alone but they are linked through the characters' relationships with a landowning Pakistani family. Here is a wonderful set of characters: authentic, engaging and above all, believable, as are the situations (by no means always happy) in which they find themselves. Daniyal Mueenuddin gives a glimpse of life in Pakistan in the same way as Kamila Shamsie.
I would rate this as highly as a novel which gives a similar in-depth and genuine insight into life, but in Afghanistan rather than Pakistan. That is Mary Smith's debut novel No More Mulberries which provides an authentic flavour of life in rural Afghanistan in a way not presented by the media.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly good, 2 July 2009
By 
T. Bell (UK) - See all my reviews
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It's wise and humane, beautifully written and offers a deep insight on Pakistan. I can't remember the last time I read something as beautiful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and a comfortable read., 1 May 2014
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This review is from: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Paperback)
I am in the process of reading this book and am pleased by the feel of the writing, such that I am sorry that I cannot trace other books by the same author.
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In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin (Paperback - 5 April 2010)
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