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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
34
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
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on 4 December 2010
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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on 2 September 2010
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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on 2 September 2011
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 February 2010
This is a collection of eight linked short stories which describe the overlapping worlds of an extended Pakistani family of landowners. These are stories of the servants and dependants in the worlds of Mr K.K Harouni's overflowing household in Lahore and the peasants on his estates, as well as the parallel worlds of his industrialist relations who have distanced themselves from their feudal past.

The characters in these stories confront the advantages and constraints of their situations, the dissolution of old ways and the associated shock of change. Meet Lily, the socialite who, tired of endless parties, marries a young landlord in an attempt to reinvent herself. There is Nawabdin, the electrician whose light-fingered ingenuity enables him to support his 12 daughters until he loses almost everything. Meet, too, the aged labourer who earns enough money to marry but when his wife disappears shortly afterwards is suspected of murder.

There are no happy stories here: the rich are selfish and shallow, the poor trying hard to survive. And yet the tragedy is leavened, at times, with humour. These stories with their diverse characters, their attempts at love, occasional triumphs, and misunderstandings illustrate the complexities of a class and culture which is in transition.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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on 9 January 2013
These linked short stories are touching, funny and brutal, and the last one in the collection, 'A Spoiled Man', almost unbearably sad - one of the saddest short stories I have ever read.. The story set in Paris does not work so well, it feels contrived. the effect is dislocating. Still, the collection is beautifully written, well worth reading.
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on 4 January 2010
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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on 25 August 2011
Excellent from A to Z. And why use at least 20 words, when 5 are enough? This is a waste of energy and scorns succinct language.
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on 18 May 2010
Absorbing, emotional and beautifully written. A series of short stories but the main characters are interlinked throughout.
A sumptuous treat of a book
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on 30 May 2009
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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VINE VOICEon 11 October 2010
I really liked the way the author linked all these short stoies by having them revolve around the family and staff of Mr K.K.Harouni, a wealthy Pakistani landowner. However, I would have enjoyed the book more if just a few of them had had happy, or at least redeeming, endings. Each time I got involved with the (well written) characters, only to have their efforts in life struck down in the final pages. While I recognise that in Pakistan, corruption is rife, the poor are very poor and women have to struggle harder than men, I also felt that some of the characters should prevail: some marriages should succeed, some folk be permitted happiness.

The stories provide an interesting view of the extremes of Pakistani society, the wealthy and the very poor, but it left me feeling that the moral of the book was "fight for yourself, care only for your family and loved ones, step on everyone else on the way up and when you die it will all have been for nothing anyway."

Worth a read but in no way uplifting.
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