Daniyal Mueenuddin's debut collection of linked short stories, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, is poised to be 2009's big short story collection, and from what we''ve read so far, the early praise is warranted. Mueenuddin has already been published in Granta and The New Yorker, and Salman Rushdie selected the collection's marvelous opening story, "Nawabdin Electrician", to appear in Best American Short Stories.
Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say, in a starred review:
"In eight beautifully crafted, interconnected stories, Mueenuddin explores the cutthroat feudal society in which a rich Lahore landowner is entrenched. A complicated network of patronage undergirds the micro-society of servants, families and opportunists surrounding wealthy patron K.K. Harouni. In 'Nawabdin Electrician,' Harouni's indispensable electrician, Nawab, excels at his work and at home, raising 12 daughters and one son by virtue of his cunning and ingenuity — qualities that allow him to triumph over entrenched poverty and outlive a robber bent on stealing his livelihood. Women are especially vulnerable without the protection of family and marriage ties, as the protagonist of 'Saleema' learns: a maid in the Harouni mansion who cultivates a love affair with an older servant, Saleema is left with a baby and without recourse when he must honor his first family and renounce her. Similarly, the women who become lovers of powerful men, as in the title story and in 'Provide, Provide,' fall into disgrace and poverty with the death of their patrons. An elegant stylist with a light touch, Mueenuddin invites the reader to a richly human, wondrous experience."
The book is going to be released next week but we're sending a copy now to a lucky TEV winner, courtesy of W.W. Norton. The rules are as they have ever been - we're nothing if not ploddingly consistent. Blah blah blah email blah blah blah subject line: "WANTING WONDER" blah blah blah full mailing address blah blah blah 8 p.m. PST blah blah blah winner randomly selected. Go nuts, y'all.
UPDATE: Congratulations to Amy Waldman of Brooklyn!