Daniyal Mueenuddin

Imagine Pakistan in the decades before 9/11 and Al Qaeda, post-colonial and nearly feudal in the divide between rich and poor, its past wealth seeping like water into the sand. One landowner divides his time between Lahore and his various farms out in rural Punjab. Around him revolve a constellation of spurned wives, supplicant in-laws, thieving property managers, adulterous servants, heroin addicts, bandits, and honest peasants. In his excellent collection In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Norton, $23.95), the Western-educated Daniyal Mueenuddin allows major characters to die in one story, then loops back years in another to let them observe from the periphery. Writing with strict economy, he preserves resources. Just as land and money shift from one party to the next over the years, Mueenuddin reallocates the narrative among his cast, as their fortunes rise and fall. Some stories you may recall from The New Yorker. In all of them, love and prosperity are like the crops—flourishing in one season, gone the next. BRIAN MILLER

Thu., March 5, 7:30 p.m., 2009

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