Picks and Pans Review: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

updated 02/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Daniyal Mueenuddin

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Dust, lust, the sweet smell of jasmine, the stench of corruption, class struggle—modern Pakistan's beauty commingles with its brutality in Mueenuddin's fine debut collection. Raised in Pakistan, the author attended Dartmouth and then Yale Law School; he now runs his family's old farm in Punjab. Perhaps that double identity honed his understanding of people; he writes knowingly of lovers, liars, beggars and the elite. Many are lonely, bound by old rules of feudalism or floundering in the shallow waters of a new order. One character wavers between hating Pakistan ("everyone's a crook, nothing works here!") and realizing that it "makes everything else seem washed out." In these linked tales, Mueenuddin illuminates the intense colors of his homeland, and of human nature itself.

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