Manto through the eyes of his friends and rivals
Manto Saheb: Friends and Enemies of the Great Maverick (Speaking Tiger, Rs 499) translated by Vibha S. Chauhan and Khalid Alvi presents 15 distinct portraits of Saadat Hasan Manto, painted by a wide range of contributors. This includes his friends such as Ismat Chughtai, rivals like Upendranath Ashk, a judge who fined him on a case, his family, and even Manto himself, each reflecting on their affection for and grievances against him. The varied, and often contradictory, perspectives on Manto shed light on the disparate facets of his mind. The book also offers a glimpse into the literary circles of the Progressive Writers. The arrangement of essays is interesting: every piece appears engaged in a dialogue with the other. Translating these obscure writings, composed mostly in Urdu following Manto’s death, was crucial to expand his readership, especially in keeping with the recent surge of popular interest in the author. What the book lacks sorely, however, is an editor’s or translator’s note.