World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Daniyal Mueenuddin

Daniyal Mueenuddin
دانیال معین الدین
London, 2009
Born Daniyal Mueenuddin
Los Angeles, USA
Nationality Pakistani-American
Occupation Author
Known for Critically short-story
Daniyal Mueenuddin's Official Website

Daniyal Mueenuddin (Urdu: دانیال معین الدین‎) (born 1963) is a Pakistani-American author. His short-story collection In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, has been translated into sixteen languages,[1][2][3][4] and won The Story Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and other honors and critical acclaim.[5]

Born in Los Angeles, USA, he spent his childhood in Pakistan. At the age of thirteen he moved to the USA, where he received higher education and worked as a journalist, a director, a lawyer, a businessman, before finally devoting his efforts to writing.

Life and works

Early life

Mueenuddin was born in Los Angeles, USA, to a Pakistani father Ghulam Mueenuddin and an American mother Barbara.[3] His father was a member of the Indian Civil Service (ICS), and after the Partition of India he became Secretary of Pakistan's Establishment Division, which administered the civil service (later he was the country's Chief Election Commissioner).[6] In the late 1950s, Mueenuddin's father was posted for several years to Washington as chief negotiator of the Indus Waters Treaty (1960) between India and Pakistan[7] where he met his future American wife Barbara,[6] a reporter at The Washington Post.[4] After a courtship and marriage they moved to Pakistan in 1960, living first in Rawalpindi and later in Lahore.[4][8] Keeping with an agreement she had made with her father, a surgeon in Los Angeles who had heard of unsanitary conditions in Pakistani hospitals, his expectant mother flew back to the U.S. and Mueenuddin was born in Los Angeles in April.[9] Two months later mother and child returned to Lahore, Pakistan, where Mueenuddin spent his childhood and attended the Lahore American School.[3][8] Mueenuddin remembers his youth there as a "magical" time which included hunting and riding.[4] Mueenuddin and his brother Tamur[10] often visited the US in the summers.[4]

At age 13 his parents separated and the two boys moved with their mother back to the US, where Mueenuddin spent five years at prep-school, Groton School in MA, graduating in 1981.[3] Later he graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College.[3][6] The summer of his graduation he returned to Pakistan where his father, at his 80s was failing health, and losing control of the family farm to its managers. His father asked him to stay in Pakistan and rescue the farm.[4] Mueenuddin recalled it as a lonely and arduous life, but one well suited to Daniyal, who spent early mornings writing poetry, and evenings reading through the library that his mother had left behind.[4] (Later in life Mueenuddin would thank his mother for teaching him "that becoming a writer was a legitimate thing to do."[11] His mother was a Trustee of PEN American Center and died in November 2009.)[12] In 1990 his father died, leaving Mueenuddin more exposed but also more independent. He ran the farm as a business, and not in the traditional feudal way like many of his neighbors, by "hiring good managers, paying them well, and demanding a lot of them."[4]


In 1993, with the farm running fairly smoothly, he decided to spend time in the West again[8] and moved back to the US where he attended Yale Law School for three years, editing the Yale Journal of International Law and serving as Director of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic. After graduation he worked briefly at Human Rights Watch and then as a corporate lawyer at the New York firm Debevoise & Plimpton between 1998 and 2001.[6][8] However he found the life unsatisfying and decided to begin a new career in writing, explaining that:

"Sitting in my office on the forty-second floor of a black skyscraper in Manhattan, looking out over the East river, I gradually developed confidence in the stories I had lived through during those years on the farm. I realized that I was in a unique position to write these stories for a Western audience – stories about the farm and the old feudal ways, the dissolving feudal order and the new way coming, the sleek businessmen from the cities. I resigned from the law firm, returned to Pakistan, and began writing the stories that make up In Other Rooms, Other Wonders.[8]

He enrolled in the MFA program (writing) at the University of Arizona at Tucson, where he earned a degree in 2004.[3] His first published story was "Our Lady of Paris" published in Zoetrope: All-Story in Fall 2006.[13] This gained the attention of a literary agent,[4] Bill Clegg,[14] who then helped him to publish a story in Granta and three stories in The New Yorker.[15] Mueenuddin's first collection of stories In Other Rooms, Other Wonders was published in February 2009 (four new stories, plus the four previously published). Mueenuddin's writing is influenced by Anton Chekov, "I like the Russians, like everyone else. I am constantly reading Chekov. I am never not reading Chekov."[5] Mueenuddin is currently working on a novel set in 1970s Pakistan.[5]


Mueenuddin is married to Cecilie Brenden Mueenuddin, a Norwegian Arabist and Middle Eastern scholar, whom he met while on a Fulbright Scholarship in Oslo, Norway.[14] His previous marriage was to New York artist and lawyer Rachel Jeanne Harris in 1999.[6] While growing up Mueenuddin was the godson of Katherine Anne Porter, who was a friend of his mother.[16] Porter died in 1980 and his mother became one of the trustees of Porter's literary estate.[17]


Mueenuddin was the winner of the 2010 Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders was the winner of The Story Prize for 2009, and the 2010 Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Best First Book, Europe and South Asia). The collection was also a finalist for the 2009 National Book Awards, the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, the 2010 Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award, and the 2010 Ondaatje Prize.[18] In addition, it was selected among TIME magazine's top ten books of the year, Publishers Weekly's top ten books of 2009, The Economist's top ten fiction books of 2009, The Guardian's best books of the year, The New Statesman's best books of the year, and The New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year.

One of his short stories, "Nawabdin Electrician", was selected by Salman Rushdie for the Best American Short Stories of 2008.[14] Another story, "A Spoiled Man", was selected for the 2010 edition of The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories.[19]

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders has been published in 19 countries in 16 languages.


See also


External links

  • Official Website
  • The New Yorker
  • Zoetrope: All-Story, Fall 2006, Vol. 10, No. 3

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.