Sunday, April 18, 2010

‘I have worked very hard’: Daniyal Mueenuddin

Daniyal Mueenuddin was born to a Pakistani father and an American mother in 1963. His debut collection of short stories set in contemporary Pakistan, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, was released in 2009 to near universal acclaim for bringing alive the world of rural Pakistan to English-language readers worldwide. The book won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for 2010 in the best first book category for South Asia and Europe. Mueenuddin was in town for the announcement and the award ceremony for the worldwide winners. The prize for best first book went to Siddon Rock by Glenda Guest. A cheerful Mueenuddin met Lounge for an interview earlier this week. Edited excerpts:

Do you see yourself as an American or a Pakistani?
That is not a meaningful distinction for me. I am both and neither. I don’t fit in perfectly in the US or in Pakistan. But I inhabit both the worlds pretty completely. Till I was 13, I was in Lahore, and then I went to boarding school and college in the US. When I was 24, I came back to manage the farm, which was falling apart. My father was elderly and unwell and never went there himself. The munshis (managers) there went crazy; they became tremendously rich. The man who was formerly the head manager of the farm has more money than us now and is a member of the provincial assembly. It took me years to fire these guys; they had become so powerful. I had to inflict the death of a thousand cuts. By 1993, I got rid of everyone. I finally had my own team and then I went to law school at Yale.

Full interview here Mint

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