Synopses & Reviews
“The undisputed master of the modern Indian short story.”—Salman Rushdie
Stories encircling the marginalized, forgotten lives of Bombay, set against the backdrop of the India-Pakistan Partition.
Fresh translations and by far the most comprehensive collection of stories by this 20th Century master available in English.
Saadat Hasan Manto conjures the vitality on the streets of Bombay — its prostitutes, pimps, gangsters, artists, writers, and strays. Also, the pain and bewilderment of the Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs pitted against each other by the India-Pakistan partition. Deeply opposed to partition, Manto is best known for his dry-eyed portrayals of its violence, horrors, and absurdities. From a stray dog (with Hindu or Muslim leanings?) caught in the crossfire at the border of India and Pakistan, to friendly neighbors turned enemy soldiers pausing for tea together in a short cease fire — Manto blurs the edges of geographic, cultural, and social boundaries with an unflinching and satirical gaze, and a powerful humanism. With an introduction by Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Vijay Seshadri, this collection illuminates Manto’s most vital and universal work, and — half a century later — remains a prescient text illuminating so many of the glaring and silenced conflicts that plague humanity today.
“Saadat Hasan Manto has a good claim to be considered the greatest South Asian writer of the 20th century. In his work, written in Urdu, he incarnated the exuberance, the madness, the alcoholic delirium of his time, when the country he loved cleaved into two and set upon each other.” The New York Times
“Manto, widely regarded as the foremost Urdu short story writer of the 20th century, writes tales of brutality, possession, and innocence. These translations of his work by Hasan and Memon illustrate the writer’s ability to regard everyone — crooks, the upper class, politicians, soldiers, housewives, and prostitutes — with an eye trained on humanity... A substantial collection from an important writer.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Manto’s irony and humanity raise him on par with Gogol." Anita Desai
“...visionary. A writer of special interest for anyone who cares about Pakistan, where so many forms of random-seeming violence crowd the news.” Ali Sethi, The New Yorker
About the Author
In his short career, Saadat Hasan Manto produced a powerful and original body of work, writing over 20 collections of short stories, five radio dramas, three essay collections, one novel, and a handful of film scripts. A Muslim living in Bombay at the time of the India-Pakistan Partition, Manto was forced to migrate with his family to Lahore, where he wrote the stories conjuring the inhumanity of partition for which he is best known. In his later years, Manto became increasingly alcoholic and died at the age of 42. He was posthumously awarded the prestigious Nishan-e-Imtiaz award by the Government of Pakistan in 2012.
Khalid Hasan, journalist, writer and translator, was born in Srinagar, Kashmir. He has translated most of Saadat Hasan Manto’s work. He has also translated the stories of Ghulam Abbas and the poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
Khalid Hasan’s own publications include Scorecard, Give Us Back Our Onions, The Umpire Strikes Back, Private View, and Rearview Mirror. He lives in Washington and is US correspondent of Daily Times and the Friday Times, Lahore.
Born in India in 1939, Muhammad Umar Memon was emeritus professor of Urdu, Persian and Islamic Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Memon translated widely from English and Arabic into Urdu and from Urdu into English. His translations from Urdu include The Essence of Camphor and Snake Catcher, both by Naiyer Masud, and several other collections of short stories, including The Tale of the Old Fisherman and The Colour of Nothingness. He was the editor of the Pakistan Writers Series (OUP) and also editor of the Annual of Urdu Studies.