Saturday, September 29, 2012

Book Review: Manto, Selected Stories - Translated by Aatish Taseer

About the author
Saadat Hasan Manto, the most widely read and the most controversial short-story writer in Urdu, was born on 11 May 1912 at Sambrala in Punjab's Ludhiana District. In a writing career spanning over two decades he produced twenty-two collections of short stories, one novel, five collections of radio plays, three collections of essays, two collections of reminiscences and many scripts for films. He was tried for obscenity half a dozen times, thrice before and thrice after independence. Not always was he acquitted. Some of Manto's greatest work was produced in the last seven years of his life, a time of great financial and emotional hardship for him. He died a few months short of his forty-third birthday, in January 1955, in Lahore.


Taseer has given a beautiful introduction to this book, about how he got in touch with his Urdu heritage, learning to read and write the language and subsequently getting to appreciate world renowned works of literature written in this language.

The bonus factor was that the book contained Toba Tek Singh and The Dog of Tithwal. Apart from these, one will also find Ten Rupees, Blouse, Khol Do, Khalid Mian, My name is Radha, Ramkhilawan, Licence, The Mice of Shahdhaulah, For Freedom, and Smell.

I'd heard a lot about Toba Tek Singh and the story did live up to it. In one word, it was enchanting and for a long time, I was visualising the lunatics in the asylums, confused about which country they belonged too. Ten Rupees touches a chord where the protagonist, for her love of fast cars, is not hesitant in getting into prostitution.

While I spent a very peaceful Saturday reading all these stories, putting the book aside, once in a while, trying to imagine and build situations in my mind, I felt the acute need to learn Urdu. The translation portrayed the whole story very nicely, still, I felt that like in any translation, the original edition would have had more depth.

I won't say much about the rest of the stories, but I'd say, have a read instead!

My rating: 4/5

[This review was done for Random House IndiaThe opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

1 comment:

  1. I too loved the introduction ---- yet to read the stories.


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