Belinda's Reviews > In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
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May 16, 11

Read in May, 2011

Where's the half-star option when you need it? This (too) slim book of short stories is bumping up against the best books I've read this year, and it feels like an injustice to give it just four stars. Lovely, well-crafted stories that quietly introduce the reader to contemporary Pakistan, a country founded in fuedalism, further shaped by colonialism, and then struggling with modernity as its well-off young people go abroad for an education and perhaps spouses. Back at home, poverty and servitude are still very common, as well as arranged marriages, strict social conventions and iron-clad class distinctions. This is a country with nuclear arms and a teeming "youth surge" population that is most often poor, uneducated and unemployed. A crisis is coming to Pakistan in the near future, and this book explores how and why the different classes will cope or perish through short stories that explore how people strive to get what they want, whether it's marriage, a child, social position or monetary gain.

Of interest to me are women's roles in this book -- while women are often second-class citizens, several of the characters in this book wheedle and connive to make ends meet, even if there are tremendous sacrifices to be had. You are introduced to a servant, the spoiled daughter of illustrous parents, the American wife of a landowner, and the sophisticated, worldly matriarch. Each story has a tiny overlap in it so that you learn more of what happens to their storyline, but it doesn't impeded the other story lines.

In light of Pakistan's recent blind eye to Osama Bin Ladin's whereabouts, this is an enlightening look at a country that is poised to be major player on the world stage, but it's still held captive by its own history and past. Definitely a recommended read.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Sagheer (new)

Sagheer Afzal Hi Belinda
I found your review to be very thoughtful and incisive. I would be honoured if you would check out my book 'The Reluctant Mullah' I would be interested to know your forthright opinion
Sagheer Afzal


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