Manil Suri’s first novel, The Death of Vishnu, won the 2002 Barnes & Noble Discover Prize and was a finalist for the Pen/Faulkner Award. His newest novel, The Age of Shiva will be available in paperback in January. He lives in Maryland, where he is a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland altimore County. Visit his web site ManilSuri.com.
I always have a hard time immersing myself in story collections, so when I received an advance copy of Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, for a possible blurb, it took me some weeks to open it. But I was hooked from the first story. Here was the sumptuously recreated world of rural Pakistan, peopled with characters who were intensely human and completely compelling. The stories flowed effortlessly into each other, a mosaic that brought alive all the drama of the class structure that seems to rule everything in that society. Each story was possessed with a grand and resolute momentum that made it feel like I was reading a classic passed down through the ages.
And will wonders never cease, but the other book that comes to mind is also a collection of stories, interconnected by the presence of the character of the title, Olive Kitteridge. Elizabeth Strout, the author, paints a very realistic portrait of this woman’s life (and of the townspeople around). The language is quietly stunning and the overall book stark but compellingly readable.