Daniyal Mueenuddin often thinks of mango trees when he’s not thinking about his fiction, said Radhika Jones in Time. The 45-year-old runs his family’s farm in Pakistan, and he’s come to enjoy a daily blending of his roles as both author and agriculturalist. “I crawl out of bed about 6, have some tea, and immediately I meet my managers,” he says. Once his men head for the fields, he writes until 2 p.m. Late afternoon finds him touring his greenhouses and orchards or poring over farm finances. The latter probably should get more attention than they do, he admits. “But it’s so much fun walking around.”

Mueenuddin is well practiced in straddling cultures, said Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in The Wall Street Journal. The son of an American mother and a Pakistani father, he was reared in Punjab until age 13, at which point he was shipped to a Massachusetts boarding school. “Cue massive culture shock,” he says. After graduating from Dartmouth, he went back to the farm for seven years, then on to Yale Law School, a New York law firm, and finally a master’s program in writing. The stories in his acclaimed debut collection, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, draw solely on his Pakistani life. Still, if he had to choose one vocation, Mueenuddin would quit farming first. “I would miss it tremendously,” he says. But “I can’t imagine giving up writing.”