Mumbai (then Bombay) in the 1930s and 1940s reigned as the undisputed cosmopolitan capital of the Subcontinent. Bombay Stories is a collection of Manto’s work from his years in the city. Freshly arrived in 1930s Mumbai, Manto saw a city like no other—an exhilarating hub of license and liberty, and a city bursting with both creative energy and helpless despondency. It was to be Manto’s favourite city, and he was among the first to write the Bombay characters we are now familiar with from countless stories and films—prostitutes, pimps, lowlifes, writers, intellectuals, aspiring film actors, thugs, conmen and crooks. His hard-edged, moving stories remain, a hundred years after his birth, startling and provocative–in searching out those forgotten by humanity, Manto wrote about what it means to be human. Matt Reeck and Aftab Ahmad’s translations reach into the streets and capture in contemporary, idiomatic English the feeling that Urdu’s most celebrated short-story writer’s work stories provide in the original.
Presented in a realistic, almost reportorial style, these stories are both unremittingly bleak and exceptionally powerful.
Manto is a legend, a must read book.