Publisher: Random House Publications
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Saadat Hassan Manto was one of the epic writers of his time, whose reign can still be felt. Throughout his life he fought for intellectual freedom. He was just 43 when he died, but he made it pretty sure that this world will remember him by his writing. His short stories have reality in them. These stories had captured the sublime essence of the period before, during and after partition. This book is translated by Aatish Taseer, who have been gifted the art of writing through his heritage. He has worked as reporter and writer to many renowned newspapers. The first few pages are an introduction on how he started learning Urdu.
This book encapsulated several of the Manto’s magnum works. The stories like Toba Tek Singh, Khol Do, and The Dog of Tithwal have been known and cherished by many decades. He had vivid memory of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919, which made him write about partition. He had exposed the character of the British Empire and communal forces by his writing.
Some of the stories are set in Punjab, some near Gujarat and some in Amritsar. It can easily be felt that Amritsar was one of his favourite locations. His story- Toba Tek Singh states about a lunatic, who is to be delivered from Pakistan to India but he is adamant to go his homeland which he calls as, “Toba Tek Singh”. He stands at border which is in between both the countries and dies on a nameless land.
His style of writing was not only refrained by partition stories, but he touched several spheres. He wrote stories about a starlet in Bombay, about a child prostitute in “Ten Rupees”, about superstitions in the country and many more.
The Mice of Shah Daulah describes about the cultural boundaries, blind faith amongst the people. It tells about a woman who gives up his first born as an offering. Another story- licence makes us think about woman status that time. How she was tormented and torn when fate turns to be cruel to her. Other stories like Khol Do, My Name Is Radha, For freedom, Blouse, Smell, Ram Khilawan have also been added to this compilation.
This collection gives us a handy view to Manto’s works. His short stories are not only perceptive, but it also challenges a mind to think beyond the rational part. It is overall a great collection, which both new and old generations can read and appreciate.