Thursday, December 24, 2009

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin

Bad things happen to good people. Bad things happen to bad people. That description is too simplistic for author Daniyal Mueenuddin's nuanced portrayal of the lives of servants in contemporary Pakistan, but be prepared for one sad outcome after another in this collection of short stories. They reminded me in style and tone of Aravind Adiga's Between the Assassinations.

I listened to an excellent Recorded Books edition, narrated by Firdous Bamji. It was nice to hear the correct pronunciation for Urdu names and words. When he said 'Himalaya' (him-ALL'-ee-a), it took me a split-second to recognize to what he referred. In the final story, A Spoiled Man, listening to details of police brutality was too much for me and I had to skip ahead in the narration. Mueenuddin exhibits a tenderness towards his characters, no matter how desperate their situations. Anyone looking for insight into the complexities of human behaviour will be rewarded by reading this book.

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