‘Nawabdin Electrician’ by Daniyal Mueenuddin

Reminiscent, in a way, of Munshi Premchand, the doyen of Hindi prose fiction, Daniyal Mueenuddin renders the senses and colours of rural Pakistani life with such veracity and wit that it makes In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, the collection which opens with ‘Nawabdin Electrician’, excellent, edge-of-the-seat-reading. When I first read him, I thought Mueenuddin was like a rogue Premchand, subverting moral codes and high-literary customs with an almost Chekhovian sensibility. I am choosing ‘Nawabdin Electrician’ over the other stories in the collection out of a personal affection for the poor electrician. Among my own powers as a boy growing up in rural India was to slow down the revolutions of electricity meters in return for a little change (which I would then use to buy video-game cassettes). Ah, life as a petty criminal! Still less stressful than academia.

First published in The New Yorker, 27 August 2007 issue, and available to subscribers to read here. Collected in In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, Bloomsbury, 2010

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