daniyal mueenuddin, a pakistani-ameriki auteur
Very interesting guy, this Daniyal.
I chanced upon a short article in ‘Outlook’ – an otherwise execrable & shady (Indian) magazine – in the ‘waiting room / lounge’ of a local dentist – no, I was not the one with random tooth issues. ;-)
This article talked about how good this Daniyal guy is and stuff — and I got curious… (there was also a picture of him (as under) that would qualify him as a veritable ‘hunk!’)
Daniyal, who is also apparently a practising farmer (earlier avatars included being a Newyork lawyer and stuff) is good with his language, almost RK Narayan-like – in terms of telling an universal story from the particular point of view of a culture, while using a simple story line and leisurely snapshots based character development.
Of course, Thomas M. Disch – one of the finest poets / essayists / shortstory writers etc etc that I know of — is also quite good with this – especially his phantasmagorical ‘The First Annual Performance Art Festival at the Slaughter Rock Battlefield’ – I read this some 15 years back and I still could recollect most of the storyline. Haunting is the word – in The Hudson Review; sorry, this incredible and delirious shortstory is paywalled. I very, very strongly and earnestly recommend him. And, one of these days, I must specifically write about this Thomas Disch. I seriously wish, we had authors like this in our Tamil language. Really. *sniff*
… But then, here are two stories by Daniyal for your leisurely savoring, thanks to the Newyorker magazine… (hey! these are not paywalled, enjoy!)
A Spoiled Man
This is a story about an elderly and lovable Rezak who does various things to survive, reconciling in a childish kinda way, to his life, in spite of tragic things that happen to him. Very beautiful and yet a simple prose…
In this story, which of course is very good, there are some very cute takes on the ‘delicate charm of the proletariat‘ (sorry, Luis Buñuel) as also on how to properly use a motorbike. There is no condescending tone. Nor is there any ritualistic praising of the working class mode. A big NO to merely damning the ‘feudal’ structures. No laboured humour. No unnecessary frills… It is a true celebration of grey areas, I think.
One can very easily spot condescension and much else when an author (supposedly sensitive, sensible and what not) writes about the working class men, who in his/her opinion, have no higher purpose in life than to merely survive & ultimately die. But yet they flow with their lives too, in a lyrical kind of way and Daniyal is able to capture this flow, rather nicely and honestly…
Another interesting thing that Daniyal captures is the cute and nifty DIY kind of inventions that the central characters make, in order to reduce the drudgery in their lives – and this has been done by expertly weaving these efforts into the story, without being obtrusive. I love these kinds of takes-off in various directions.
… I wouldn’t at all be surprised, if Daniyal becomes a well known (read: awards, more awards) author – and becomes a fine and a shining example of renascent ‘Pakistani writing in English!’
Some more stuff on him here – http://inotherrooms.com/
I have checked out his anthology of short stories – ‘In other rooms, other wonders.’ May he write more…
JournalEntry # 3rd Feb, 2009.