"Nawabdin Electrician," in The New Yorker

There's a very interesting short story in this week's New Yorker, by a new Pakistani writer named Daniyal Mueenuddin. It's about an electrician working on a large farm in rural Pakistan, more or less taking care of his business until something dramatic happens. I won't say much about the dramatic thing that happens to Nawabdin (read the story), but here's a teaser to give you a sense of the writing style:

The motorcycle increased his status, gave him weight, so that people began calling him Uncle and asking his opinion on world affairs, about which he knew absolutely nothing. He could now range farther, doing much wider business. Best of all, now he could spend every night with his wife, who early in the marriage had begged to live not in Nawab’s quarters in the village but with her family in Firoza, near the only girls’ school in the area. A long straight road ran from the canal headworks near Firoza all the way to the Indus, through the heart of the K. K. Harouni lands. The road ran on the bed of an old highway built when these lands lay within a princely state. Some hundred and fifty years ago, one of the princes had ridden that way, going to a wedding or a funeral in this remote district, felt hot, and ordered that rosewood trees be planted to shade the passersby. Within a few hours, he forgot that he had given the order, and in a few dozen years he in turn was forgotten, but these trees still stood, enormous now, some of them dead and looming without bark, white and leafless. (link)

In the story as a whole, I think Mueenuddin finds some very congenial ways to convey a poor electrician's point of view. He's got a good sense of comic details, but doesn't depend on them too much. I also liked the ambiguities at the end regarding Nawabdin's character. Any thoughts on this story?

Incidentally, Mueenuddin also has another story online, at the literary magazine Zoetrope. It's quite different from "Nawabdin Electrician"; I think it will be interesting to anyone who has been in a serious cross-cultural or interracial relationship. (I'm happy to discuss that story too.)