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FREE PDF æ Bitter Fruit: The Very Best of Saadat Hasan Manto õ Widely renowned as the best short story writer in Urdu, Manto s stories were mostly written against the milieu of the Partition Bitter Fruit presents the best collection of Manto s writings, from his short stories, plays and sketches, to portraits of cinema artists, a few pieces on himself, and his letters to Uncle Sam which have references to communism, Russia, politics after the Partition and his own financial condition The concluding section of the book has acknowledgements and reminiscences from Saadat s friends and relatives Bitter Fruit includes stories like A Wet Afternoon, The Return, A Believer s Version, Toba Tek Singh, Colder Than Ice, The Assignment, Odour, By The Roadside, Bribing the Almighty, The Kingdom s End, The Woman in the Red Raincoat, The Room with the Bright Light, The Great Divide, The Angel, Siraj, An Old Fashioned Man, The Price of Freedom, It Happened in 1919, The Girl from Delhi, A Man of God, Free for All, and A Tale of 1947 There is a collection of sketches too Manto used to write radio plays and this book has one of the dramas he penned, called In This Vortex His short stories bring out the most delicate nuances of human nature. To do justice to this review would be a difficult task because of sheer quality of stories that I ended up reading The emotions, narratives and manner of storytelling in each of the masterful stories is so compelling that you would not just enjoy them but also it would linger on deep in your minds even after they have ended.These are stories that talk to you and pull you out of slumber if you are in one I feel the pain, the sordid eventualities that partition dished out, the downright sinister mentalities and the agonising portrayal of the tumultuous times gone by You have to have felt the pain to have brought it down on paper so brilliantly.To think that he was accused of vulgarity is preposterous He sometimes told stories that happened in reality It is amusing to note that the actual happenings were not vulgar and crass but being brought down into the form of stories was.The sketches, short takes as well as his sarcastic overtones are sure to leave you spell bound An author way ahead of his times This book is a must read. Without giving an impression of bragging I would say that I have read quiet a lot of fiction authors but till date I have not found someone like Manto in fact I have no words to describe my adoration for him..I think his death happened at an age when most of the authors only start gaining fame, and we lost the master of short stories There can be a debate as to whether Manto was an Indian or Pakistani writer but it doesn t matter because they say artists have no nationalities I read him once and I wish to read him again again his words create such images in my mind as if everything he is saying is happening right in front of my eyes and after reading each of his story, I sit back start thinking how it would have been in those times, what he would be thinking when he wrote that, what inspired him to write it, is it true story or not as if it is a play the characters are alive telling their own story I think as many authors I have read Manto is the most close to life a natural writer even if he writes a single sentence it turns out to be a story with a fast paced start the most shocking ironic ending He could write a story on anything and give it the most poignant angle Coming to the book The Bitter Fruit is a collection of his short stories with some of the evergreen ones like Toba Tek Singh , The Return , The Gift , The Assignment , Colder than Ice he was accused for vulgarity in this story One can feel that a lot of these stories are a piece form his life as they revolve around his time spent in the film world or the experiences during the partition in 1947 In fact I was quiet surprised to find that Manto could also write well in other forms like characters sketches,plays, letters to Uncle Sam, newspaper articles on film characters, note to readers, and his own story The film star sketches just show the vastness of Manto s talent him being able to create a story out of anything He is frank to the point of inviting wrath from the people who he sketches, describing their facial features to their personalities in the most honest cut to the point You can t help but actually start seeing facts in his stories Though he has written about film stars their scandalous personal lives but the sketches are no less dramatic or colourful like the films they acted in He has described some of the big stars like Ashok Kumar, Nur Jahan, Nargis, Naseem Bano, Sitara Devi, and personalities like Jinnah bringing them to life and light the way they were behind the screen public light He narrates his experiences as they were without mincing his words or hiding any facts.There was a phase when he used to write plays for Radio and his plays again have his distinct touch of being frank on the face, like the artist who decides to open an animal fodder farm because of financial crisis only Manto can think of such hilarious situations He would go to the publishers to ask for money for his writings when they would say he needs to submit a story then he would sit right there write one for them I have never heard any other author being able to roll out his beautiful creations just like that The sad part is that he was given only Rs 25 50 for such creations which now are considered literary masterpieces His letters to Uncle Sam bear a touch of after partition politics in Pakistan, the cold war between America Russia, the hot winds of communism, the growing rift between India Pakistan and both the nations vying for affections of America He takes a pot shot at the rising communist propaganda, misguided Progressive writers movement, his own poor financial situation how the artists are being treated in a post freedom Pakistan Finally in his note to readers the write up of his nephew Hamid Jalal shows the dual face of Saadat Hasan Manto How Saadat Hasan was a father, husband, family man sensitive to his family needs and how Manto was a writer, artist, alcoholic a man who could not come to terms with his post partition situation in Pakistan He was devastated due to the accusations from the conservative strata of the society calling him a pornographic writer trying to get fame out of writing cheap vulgar stories He was notorious for his age of writers as he put things in black white without giving a religious touch to his stories or glorifying Islam defaming other religions or letting politics run his thoughts He wrote what he felt or what he thought not caring for the so called moral police but his innocent stories became the target and they crucified him on the altar of religion so called pure society The alcohol dubious sympathisers pushed him to the edge and there was no return from there Manto s tragic end has only made his family bitter and horrified of the fall of a writer in a not so liberal world Just like his stories Manto s life death was short ironic where he received his fame only after he was hated in his living days I wish they put the epitaph he had written for himself where he wanted it to be In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful Here lies Saadat Hasan Manto and with him lie buried all the secrets and mysteries of the art of short story writing Under tons of earth he lies, still wondering who among the two is greater short story writer God or He. Manto was a controversial writer of his times and while reading his stories you come to understand why that might have been the case These stories, which I imagine to have been inspired from real life instances, present to us the ethos of a world long gone, of a country which witnessed turmoil of Partition and of the people who lived through those times Manto writes plainly, even blatantly and with sarcasm at times Perhaps that is why the stories leave such an impact on the reader A few of his stories left me shaken in terror and I could only imagine the horrors that the people who went through the violence of Partition must have faced He is a writer who must be read, for his stories lay bare before us the bestiality of human nature which inflicts torture on others in times of extreme turbulence He doesn t give hope, maybe because he was cynical and had remained distressed most of his life But he is definitely to be read Recommended. Saadat Hasan Manto has had a relatively short live He was born in Punjab in 1912 and died in 1955 Lahore, in the newly created Pakistan Barely 43 years But the majority of this years he was writing His language was Urdu He has never finished any formal education failed the school s exams dropped out of the university as well In spite of it, he started from translating Victor Hugo and Oscar Wilde His translations has been published and that has started off his literary career He has become an editor of a magazine and has started to write short stories His life has fallen on the almost turbulent period in Indian history He was 7 when the massacre in Armister took place His youth took place on the background of political movements for independence He was not very political though He has spend his best years in Bombay working for a magazine related to the film industry Then came independence followed by religious violence on the scale never imaginable He witnessed this He lived through this Then came Partition He did not want to leave Bombay even then However he was asked to leave his job allegedly due to overrepresentation of muslims So he went to Lahore to join his family But he never was happy since then He missed Bombey his heavy drinking has killed him in 6 years, but he never stopped writing even when he was drinking Reading his stories, i could not help wondering why I ve never heard about him before Why is he not better known worldwide, but especially in the english speaking world His writing is terrific so controlled and economic, but so poignant at the same time, creating such a nuanced psychologic images just in a fews sentences Additionally, the themes of his stories are universal Two main topics stood out for me the life of women, majority of them are prostitutes and the nature humanity versus violence be it war, revolution or communal killings what happens to a human being facing something incomprehensible, how it skews the whole definition of being human And his voice never goes anywhere near sentimentality, never capitalises on the horror of subject matter It has been a few weeks since I ve read this book However some of these stories simply stay in my mind In Last Salute two friends, who fought together for the British, are appeared to be in the different sides of India Pakistan War following Partition They are physically within short distance hiding from each other with their trapped regiments They ve recognise each other voices Then the request for a favour and the tragedy follows In A Tale of 1947 Mumtaz, a muslim man is leaving for Pakistan, the country he knows nothing off Three of his best friends, who are all Hindus are seeing him off He has decided to leave after the one of these friends received the news of his uncle s murder and acknowledged If Hindu Muslim killings start here, I do not know what I will do I do not know I might kill you So Mumtaz is leaving But before that, he is trying to talk to them one last time about what matters to him what is religion, what does it mean to be devoted, what is the human decency He says Only a naive could believe that religion could be eliminated with a gun Why cannot they understand that faith, belief, devotion, call it what you will is a thing of the spirit it is not physical Guns and knives are powerless to destroy it And he follows on with a story of the Hindu pimp he happened to know as an example of the most decent man The story is just 5 pages but it tells you much than an average novel Toby Tek Singh , the one of his most well known stories, is Manto s Ward No 6 and Other Stories It is set in a lunatic asylum which is now in the process of exchange of its Hindu and Muslim inhabitants due to Partition And the one man just simply refuse to leave So much depth and poignancy is conveyed in this image.And now about the prostitutes In his life time, Manto has received 6 charges of indecency I ve read those stories And only indecency I found how good they were He managed to charge the atmosphere and convey the feelings hardly with any reference to sex More importantly, how he cares about these women, how he could see the individual behind the setting And all of it without sliding to the usual tropes of deprivation and moral compromises These women are alive, fighting their daily problems and set backs and try to be happy like any other women In spite of the obvious, there is no sense of victimhood which often prevails in such stories In A Woman s Life the main character experiences a sort of epiphany in Joyce s sense of the world In Ten ruppies a young girl around 12 who still plays with the dolls is being procured by her own mum But she does not realise that what she is doing is not normal She just lives her life and brings her sunny disposition to her engagements In Mummy the white brothel s owner is looking after a very ill young Hindu man while everyone else has given up on him Not all of the stories are about the oldest profession The variety of his themes are wide But all of them are united by his desire to understand and depict the human condition I know how cliche this sounds, but the stories are far from any cliches.This book is the one of his most comprehensive in English Translation is smooth and the translator claims he tried to convey the style of the original I believe it worked The book contains his short stories, sketches, biographical portraits and a play I have to admit that I have not read the portraits and the play yet But the short stories are the one of the best short stories I ve ever read.