peteg's blog - noise - books - 2013 04 13 DaniyalMueenuddin InOtherRoomsOtherWonders

Daniyal Mueenuddin: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

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Having read Mueenuddin's Our Lady of Paris in Zoetrope: All Story, and Sameer and the Samosas in the New Yorker, I was glad to discover that he had a collection in print. (It does not include the latter story.) Somewhat amazingly, the UNSW Library bought this book in May 2010, which I'm taking that to mean that the budget cuts kicked in after that point, though perhaps an ethnic lit prof put in a special request. I'm fully expecting that the library will be high on the hit list following Gillard et al's shifting funding from unis to schools, which makes it so much less likely that I will renew my alumnus subscription.

Mueenuddin is clearly mining a scene he knows from the inside: the scions of the upper classes of post-colonial Pakistan, and in particular the peculiar story of his own family. All of the tales here are of the girl-meets-boy variety, and typically one party manipulates the other via sex; the remaining one or two detail even more prosaic corruption. This is observed at length by Dalia Sofer in her review for the New York Times.

The pick for me was Lily. There the boy and girl come from the Pakistani class of limitless opportunity, and so their machinations are not motivated by material desperation. I can't say it adds up to much though he writes well.