In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, By Daniyal Mueenuddin
Sunday 25 April 2010
These eight linked short stories centre on the estate of the wealthy Harouni family in Pakistan, focusing in turn on servants, masters, concubines, illiterate peasants and university-educated socialites.
"Nawabdin Electrician" is the story of a handyman who takes four bullets from a robber rather than give up his prized motorbike, a gift from Harouni. "About a Burning Girl" is the tale of a judge persuaded to secure the acquittal of a servant, because "good servants are impossible to find". "A Spoiled Man" describes the life of an old retainer whose wife disappears; when he reports it to the police they torture and beat him, simply because no one has alerted them that he worked for the Harouni family.
Mueenuddin's themes are love, hope, disappointment, change and loss. In many respects these stories bear comparison with Chekhov: in the skill of the storytelling, the spare yet lyrical descriptions, the sympathetic yet utterly unsentimental voice, and in the depiction of a feudal world giving way to modernity.
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