Tuesday, July 24, 2018

My Favourite Author: Saadat Hasan Manto - Guest Post by Sona

Hello everyone. So this is the third post in the 'My Favourite Author' series. You can read the previous guest posts HERE.

Today, I'm happy to host Sona, an avid reader and blogger. She writes about her favourite author --- Saadat Hasan Manto!

Image result for saadat hasan manto books

'If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty. With my stories, I only expose the truth." - Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955)

Novelist, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, short story writer, Manto is considered one of the finest in Urdu literature. His work is stark and 'uncomfortable' to the custodians of society's morality. He was reviled by the establishment in his lifetime, having been charged for obscenity multiple times. Why then, is he a writer who was considered ahead of his times?

Because Manto’s writing is realistic, holding out hard hitting facts. He chose to expose when others looked away.

He is best known for his stories about the partition of the subcontinent. He challenged the hypocrisy and the sham morality of the society.  Manto's work reiterates that literature does not need to be polite and that political satire can comment on the present day happenings.

One of his most controversial short stories 'Khol Do', is a shocking portrayal of the violence and the depravity of people at the time of the partition. The ending of the story is like a punch to your gut. 'Thanda Gosht', another intense story depicts how the rape of women was a way to punish the people of the 'other community'.

'The Assignment' is bone chilling and much as you wish to believe in trust, loyalty and brotherhood, you cannot.

Women in Manto’s Stories ---

The women in his stories were considered 'scandalous'; he drew them from unconventional backgrounds such as brothels. They were sexually liberated and showed characteristics that are mostly attributed to males: rage, vengeance, driving their destiny. I consider Manto a feminist who humanizes women through his realistic portrayal.

Manto was called vulgar because the women he wrote about were neither weak nor sexually repressed. There is a mention of lesbianism and first sexual stirrings in 'A Wet Afternoon'. 'Kaali Shalwar' features a small town prostitute Sultana, who is disillusioned by Bombay. 'Mozail', the story of a Jewish woman living in Bombay, showcases her free spirit, her independence of thought, her courage in the face of rioters and her complete disregard for the facade of religion.

One of his best known stories, 'Toba Tek Singh', based on his own experience in a mental asylum, brings out the agony and the absurdity of partition.

I don't recommend Manto to everyone, even though he is my favourite writer. Manto's work has the capability to shock, to bring you out of your being so that you never feel the same again. It takes courage to look at the mirror that Manto holds to your face. He delves into the darkest part of the human psyche. His stories are rooted in the real life incidents of the partition violence, the fake morality that people uphold and in the dignity of women, even when they are prostitutes.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful choice. I read a few of his his essays in his book 'Why I Write' and was amazed at how relevant his thoughts were in the current times despite being written decades ago. His stories are stark and gut wrenching.