Sunday, March 7, 2010

Daniyal Mueenuddin: What The Story Prize Judges Had to Say

When the three judges for The Story Prize make their choices, they provide citations for the book or books they like best. This year's judges were author A.M. Homes, critic and blogger Carolyn Kellogg, and librarian Bill Kelly. We include the citations in congratulatory letters we present to each finalist, along with their checks ($20,000 to the winner, $5,000 to the other two finalists). To protect the confidentiality of the judges' votes and the integrity of the process, we don't attribute citations to any particular judge.

Here's what one of our judges had to say about Daniyal Mueenuddin's Story Prize winning collection In Other Rooms, Other Wonders:

In eight textured stories that stretch across decades, Daniyal Mueenuddin illuminates feudal Pakistan and its decay. Whether he's writing in the contemporary moment or of times long past, he evokes characters with empathy and a clear eye; their choices feel vital, hopeful, wrenching. Each story, on its own, shines; layered together, there is a celebration of the beauty of the landscape, humor in the everyday, the irrefutable power of family and a lingering sadness for all who have not gotten quite what they wanted.

And another judge observed:

The eight stories in In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, are woven together to create a magical, distinctly masterful, powerful debut introducing a singular voice and a truly global sensibility. It is as though Daniyal Mueenuddin arrived fully formed, his stories are well honed resonant works of art infused with a unique historical and intellectual consciousness.

Mueenuddin’s compassion for the complexity and contradiction of lives where poverty and privilege exist co-dependently is at the core of his work. In these stories one feels the tug of familial expectation, the constant juggle of social, political, personal needs and desires, the tumult of old and new worlds colliding.

These stories are written with a deep sense of knowing; as though Mueenuddin’s skin is a particular kind of porous; there is an ache, an inescapable constant melancholy, our masterful guide, knows too much, feels too deeply--if such a thing is possible. Mueenuddin is always on the outside and inside simultaneously—exposed and protected. Working in prose that is finely tuned, sparkling with sensuous clarity and authority In Other Rooms, Other Wonders draws the reader deep into a world that on the surface may seem foreign but is at it’s heart deeply familiar and human.

photo © Eric Richards