I’m still going back over this collection of short stories and was captivated vividly by Mr Mueenuddin’s ability to bring me in and keep there– within the ‘other rooms’.
For debut work In Other Rooms, Other Wonders has truly broken the idea that the short-story form cannot keep the reader’s attention, and Mr Mueenuddin has definitely done just that– I’m looking forward to reading more.
“Pakistani writers are addressing change and what’s happening today in the world. There is something completely contemporary in this writing.”
But introducing a debut collection is never easy… Mr. Mueenuddin’s eight linked stories, which take place in Pakistan in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, offer readers a look inside a culture that is in the headlines. It is the voice of Pakistan from within Pakistan, a fresh perspective … Mr. Mueenuddin doesn’t “research” his books. Rather, he says, they are mostly based on personal experience.
Each story is grounded in simple needs. In “A Spoiled Man,” a lonely old man lives in a portable cubicle and briefly finds happiness with a woman of limited intelligence. In the title piece, a young woman is willingly seduced by a wealthy landowner while allowing herself to imagine that she might be accepted by society. In “Lily,” a bride convinces herself that she’ll enjoy life on a Pakistani farm, only to discover she’s not the woman she thought.
These days, Mr. Mueenuddin is at work on a novel, although he’s convinced that the short story as a form is under-appreciated.
“A novel is a baggy thing with pieces hanging off,” he says. “It can have lots of extraneous bits, and it won’t destroy the form. But with a short story you only have a reader for a moment, and you need a beginning, middle and end that will be seen almost simultaneously. If you remove one line it falls apart.”
-Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg – WSJ