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Bitter Fruit, Manto's magic lost in translation

Aug 31, 2008 04:21 PM IST Books Books

New Delhi: Saadat Hasan Manto is one of the most widely read and translated writers in Urdu. An English translation of Saadat Hasan Manto's works has hit the bookshelves.

Bitter Fruit is a collection of the very best of Manto, like Toba Tek Singh, Mozail and Khol Do, translated and edited by Khalid Hasan.

You might have difficulty identifying them as the titles have also been translated into English losing their original nuances. Also lost in translation is much of Manto's charm, the lyricism of his prose, the anti-climax and his dry humour.

The atrocities of Partition that led to the debasing of humane values poignantly envelope every work of Manto's just like his sketches of the 1947 riots - something that Khalid Hasan includes in this collection.

This edition by Penguin also contains some of letters to Uncle Sam by Manto, which is what makes this edition special.

Bitter Fruit also contains Manto's protraits of famous personalities like Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Ashok Kumar. It's a pity that Manto's portraits are not as celebrated as his short stories and it's his proximity to these larger than life figures that re introduces them in a different light.

Bitter Fruit might not be a collector's edition; but for all those who haven't had the chance to read Manto in Urdu, this is probably the best possible way of acquainting yourself with his craft, now also available in French.

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