Leslie A. Flemming. ANOTHER LONELY VOICE: THE URDU SHORT STORIES OF SAADAT HASAN MANTO. Berkeley: Center for South & Southeast Asia Studies, University of California (Monograph Series, #18), 1979. ix, 133 pp. $10.75. (Distributed by Cellar Bookshop, Detroit, MI.)
Another Lonely Voice is the only book in English which deals with Saadat Hasan's Manto's life, his literary reputation, and his unique achievement as a short story writer. Although many of Manto's stories have been translated into English, there has been, until now, no publication which assessed his achievement and introduced him intelligently to the English reading public. In that sense. Another Lonely Voice performs a very useful and necessary function.
The book is divided into six sections. The first one deals with Manto's life; the second discusses his association with the Progressive Writers Movement, his relationship with his contemporaries and his own views on the creative output of the Progressive writers. The next two sections are concerned with the literary influences on Manto and involve a discussion of his various collections of short stories which were published during the twenty years of his creative life. The fifth section deals with the formal characteristics—technique, style, point of view, language—of Manto's short stories. The last section summarizes the argument of the entire book and offers the author's view of Manto's achievement as a writer.
The first two sections of the book contain material which is fairly stimulating. Some acquaintance with Manto's life is essential to an understanding of his work, and, in the first chapter, Flemming has given a detailed account of Manto's life. In fact, she has done more than that. Hamid Jalal, in his biographical sketch of Manto* had transformed his uncle into an idealized, romanticized figure, more the subject of a fairy-tale or a fable—a man who could walk on fire and water—than a real person who lived and wrote short stories. It is very comforting to note that Flemming has corrected the slant in the earlier Manto image and has presented Manto as a human being once again. Appropriately, her approach to Manto's life is psychological, which is perhaps the best approach to adopt in dealing with a man who possessed various contradictory qualities, and who was highly idiosyncratic in his behavior. In order to gather views about Manto, she had to travel to India, Pakistan and Iran and
* In Black Milk. Edited and translated by Hamid Jalal. (Lahore: Al-Kitab, 1956.)