Picking up this book to review wasn’t instant or even natural for me. The stories of partition heard from my grandparents had never left me feeling pleasant. Needless to say I was apprehensive about the book…but only till I opened it. The text enthralled me from the introduction itself. And the 50 stories followed.
Manto's narrative art sweeps the readers along with the flow of events; he lets them suffer, fear, believe. He is a disturbing writer who shocks the reader with his candidness, sometimes with his crudity. Whether he writes of sex or the life of prostitutes, on social or on political issues, the stories are full of fire. The writing is simple and in that sense extremely powerful but in a few stories disconnect can be felt because of the lack of details.
His magnificent style of collecting visuals and putting them on paper justifies the use of the word ‘sketches’ in the title. With each story tugging at your heart in its own way, Manto almost recreates what must’ve prevailed in those days.
Generations later, the stories managed to move me the way they did. Each story is interestingly structured and sensitised me about the issues that haunted those times, some of which still exist in varied degrees and some which seem completely irrelevant today.
The partition has gone down in history as one of the most revolutionary and significant events in the subcontinent. Its knowledge is important. The frenzy then may not be replicated today in all its fervour and intensity, but the today’s reality of India, her communities and her people sometimes comes close and that renders the text relevant for most media personnel today.
The stories fired me up. They consumed me, overwhelmed me, jolted me and bared me…
Reading the book changed me somewhere and I believe if a book can do THAT for any reader, it has achieved its purpose.
- About the Author: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saadat_Hasan_Manto
Guest blogger – Tapshi Dhanda