This is the NYR’s third encounter with Daniyal Mueenuddin, and the third time we feel moved to say basically the same thing: this story is unremarkable in style or form; seemingly precise and certainly lived-in in the detail; educational in its focus on the social structure and stuff-of-life in Punjab; and inevitable in its lessons, which mostly have to do with the all-determining and unoutrunnable nature of class. (This one ads a bit more about gender roles and sex.)
All three of the stories are centered, I realize upon looking back at them, around the same family’s estate (though mostly focused on the marginal and less-marginal people around the estate). I suppose when these stories are collected in one place (“linked stories”!), Mueenuddin may seem to have painted a rich canvas — but reading them months or years apart they didn’t really feel particularly immersive. There’s not much of a spark here, just studious accounts of people stuck in their stations. I guess I find it more repetitive than accumulative.