Join us for a reading by Nadeem Zaman, author of Up in the Main House & Other Stories at City Lit Books on Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 at 5:00 PM.
Zaman captures the power of seemingly everyday moments through the inner lives of servants and their wealthy employers.
Up in the main house, servants have worked for decades watching the city rise around it, feeling like part of the family but knowing they aren’t. Nadeem Zaman’s new collection of eight stories set in contemporary Dhaka explore the inner lives of the cooks and butlers, nightwatchmen and peons – people who have spent decades working for the same family, in the same house. Arranged marriages are negotiated, favors asked, the social cues a subtle dance.
The daily itineraries must run like clockwork for the rich and well-off who have their own problems, but in Nadeem's stories they appear thin and forever insecure, a byproduct of the real lives being lived around them. There are digressions, too, big ones like the interlopers and prowlers, petty thieves, and calculated con men, and small ones, like the servant woman who locks herself in the master bedroom while the family is away. Beautifully compelling and quietly powerful, Zaman’s stories capture an old way of life and ask: what’s next?
"Nadeem Zaman's stories are rich with the drama, small victories, and heart-rending choices of ordinary lives. The characters are evocatively drawn, jumping off the page into my imagination…This collection is filled with surprises and illuminations, powerfully capturing the lives of some of Dhaka's citizens in ways that will stay with you." —Sharbari Zohra Ahmed, author of The Ocean of Mrs Nagai: Stories
"In prose and manners at times reminiscent of V.S. Naipaul or John Updike, Nadeem Zaman’s Up in the Main House & Other Stories artfully tracks the progress and set-backs of middle class Bangladeshis contending with the pressures of social change... Zaman meticulously textures a portrait of Dhaka that is somehow at once shattering and loving." —Jerry Gabriel, author of Drowned Boy and The Let Go
"These stories are an idealist's quiet rebellion through subtle, unexpected, hopeful turns within the expected of the daily churn. The outsider Nadeem Zaman finds quintessential urban Bangladeshi experiences, and presents these pockets of life in Dhaka to English literature." —Ikhtisad Ahmed, author of Yours, Etcetera
Nadeem Zaman is the author of the novel In the Time of the Others (Picador India, 2018) and the short story collection, Up in the Main House (Unnamed Press, 2019). His fiction has appeared in journals in the US, Hong Kong, India, and Bangladesh. He studied at the University of Illinois at Chicago and earned a PhD in Humanities with concentrations on fiction and postcolonial studies at the University of Louisville. He lives in Maryland where he is visiting instructor of English at St. Mary's College of Maryland.