Still More Manto

Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955) was among the greatest short story writers of the Indian subcontinent. He also wrote plays, and worked in the Bombay film industry as a writer before migrating to Pakistan after the Partition. Leftword has just brought out his  The Armchair Revolutionary and Other Sketches.

 "I heap a thousand curses on a world, on a civilized country, and on a civilized society, which legislates that after death every person’s character and personality must be sent to the laundry from where it returns having been cleaned in order to be hung on the hook of respectability." Manto wrote these words in the preface to Ganje Farishte, a collection of his sketches. They give us a sense of what to expect from him: the ‘unvarnished’ truth as seen through his unforgiving gaze, and as captured by his sharp pen.

Vivid and intimate portraits of well-known figures including celebrities such as Ashok Kumar, Nargis and Nur Jehan, they also document the social, political, and cultural milieu of that era.

Manto was a central and controversial figure on the subcontinent’s literary scene from the 1940s until his untimely death in 1955. In their introductory essay to this collection, the editors offer evidence that Manto was a deeply political writer, one committed to radical humanism. Despite his often fraught relationship with the Progressive Writers’ Association, he rightfully belongs within the fold of the progressives.

The book has been translated from the Urdu by Khalid Hasan (1934–2009) who was a senior Pakistani journalist and writer. The editors of this volume are Ali Mir,  professor at William Paterson University in the US, and co-author of Anthems of Resistance: A Celebration of Progressive Urdu Poetry, and  Saadia Toor,  associate professor at the City University of New York and the author of The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan.

Rs. 325 in paperback, 231 pages, ISBN: 9789380118284