One of the great risks in reviewing a translated work is the tendency to believe that one is reading the author in his or her original language. I forget too often how much is lost in translation and if what I am reading is the author’s voice or the translator’s (or both). This, however, is not an issue with Bombay Stories, the forthcoming, translated collection of Urdu short stories by the late Saadat Hasan Manto.
Both translators, Matt Reeck and Aftab Ahmad, are renowned for their knowledge of Hindi and Urdu, respectively. They also come from different literary traditions; Reeck is a poet, who writes in Hindi and English, while Ahmad, an Urdu scholar and translator. They are also both contributors to the online, bilingual, literary journal, Pratilipi. The result is a mesmerizing collection of writing from a South Asian writer, dead for almost 60 years, whose works have never really reached a wide audience – until now.