Friday, May 7, 2010

In Other Rooms Other Wonders, Daniyal Mueenuddin

What an incredible collection of short stories. I rarely read short stories because they are time consuming. The attention to detail is so important that I am often worn out by the end of twenty or so pages. Joy Williams and Jhumpa Lahiri are my two favorite contemporary short story writers. I think it is time I add Mueenuddin to my list.

In Other Rooms... is his first collection of stories. The similarity to Lahiri is very evident. The stories are told very gently. With ease and care. The amount of life in each sentence is overwhelming. The strongest (and my favorite) story in the collection is 'Our Lady of Paris.' I feel this story is heavily autobiographic for the author. The male lead character has a similar background to the author. Also, the story is the closest to Lahiri's writing. Mostly, the similarity to The Namesake.

Many reviews compare to Mueenuddin's stories to Russian short stories (Chekhov, Turgenov). Why I am not too familiar with many of Chekhov's short stories, I am familiar with Turgenov (having read the collection Fathers and Sons while at college). I would agree with these statements because of the darkness of each story. There is certainly a lot of realism in the lives of the characters.

The most obvious comparison of these tales would be to fables. A handful of the stories read like moral lessons. They aren't as over the top or silly as a typical fable. The elements at play are still dark, real, and honest. The people are not necessarily learning, but the reader certainly is.


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