Stories from Pakistan about living upstairs, downstairs and everywhere in between

Michael Dirda in the Washington Post:

PH2009021301272 Because of Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Rohinton Mistry, to mention just a few of the most prominent authors, American readers have long been able to enjoy one terrific Indian novel after another. But Daniyal Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is likely to be the first widely read book by a Pakistani writer. Mueenuddin spent his early childhood in Pakistan, then lived in the United States — he attended Dartmouth and Yale — and has since returned to his father's homeland, where he and his wife now manage a farm in Khanpur. These connected stories show us what life is like for both the rich and the desperately poor in Mueenuddin's country, and the result is a kind of miniaturized Pakistani “human comedy.”

In the original Comédie humaine, Balzac had the ingenious notion of tying his various novels together by using recurrent characters. Eugène de Rastignac is the protagonist of Le Père Goriot but is subsequently glimpsed in passing or sometimes just referred to in several other books. In like fashion, Mueenuddin interlaces eight stories, while also linking them to the household of a wealthy and self-satisfied landowner named K.K. Harouni. In “Saleema,” for instance, Harouni's elderly valet, Rafik, falls into a heartbreaking affair with a young maidservant, and we remember this, with a catch in our throat, when in another story we see him bring in two glasses of whiskey on a silver tray.

More here. And here's a nice video of Daniel Mueenuddin and Mohsin Hamid from the Asia Society:

[Thanks to Laura Claridge.]