In Other Rooms, Other Wonders Essay - Critical Essays

Literary Criticism and Significance

Published in 2009 by W. W. Norton and Company, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is Daniyal Mueenuddin’s debut work of fiction. Mueenuddin was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and his familiarity with the inner workings of the Punjab region in Pakistan colors the stories in the collection. Critics argue that Mueenuddin’s work

is likely to be the first widely read book [in the United States] by a Pakistani writer.

However, Mueenuddin has said that his book is not a statement about the nature of Pakistan and that he is in no way a political writer. Instead, he says he writes from a human perspective without judgments. Writing for The New York Times, Dalia Sofer says:

Reading Daniyal Mueenuddin’s mesmerizing first collection, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, is like watching a game of blackjack, the shrewd players calculating their way beyond their dealt cards in an attempt to beat the dealer. Some bust, others surrender. But in Mueenuddin’s world, no one wins....In this labyrinth of power games and exploits, Mueenuddin inserts luminous glimmers of longing, loss and, most movingly, unfettered love. But these emotions are often engulfed by the incessant chaos of this complicated country.

Praised for its economical style of prose and its lyricism, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders has received numerous awards to date. The collection was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award for Fiction and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Also, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders was awarded the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction in the same year by the Los Angeles Times. In addition to its numerous awards, the collection has also been named one of the top books of 2009 by The New York Times, The Economist, Publishers Weekly, and The Guardian.

Mueenuddin’s fiction has appeared in several literary journals including The New Yorker, Zoetrope, and Granta, and several stories in the collection have been previously published in journals. “Nawabdin Electrician,” one of the stories in In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, has been chosen by Salman Rushdie for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of 2008. Along with the success it has received in the United States, Mueenuddin’s collection has received praise worldwide and is published in nineteen countries in sixteen different languages.