Ayesha Jalal on Manto:

What do you make of the resurgence of Manto’s popularity over the last year?
I don’t know whether ‘resurgence’ is the word for those of us who have seen a steady interest in Manto. Of course, the last year was important because it was the centenary and that may have brought in a new set of youngsters previously unexposed to him, but I do think he has caught the imagination of the youth over the years. What’s beautiful about Manto is that he hasn’t received state sponsorship in either India or Pakistan, but youngsters have independently found in him the attraction of him as a rebel writer, a contrarian. The more we are surrounded by hypocrisy, the more Manto becomes relevant. The hypocrisy of society really used to get to him.

The Pity of Partition

The Pity of Partition
Ayesha Jalal
HarperCollins
265 pp; Rs 599

Manto
Manto

“The pity of partition was not that the country had been divided into two, Independent India and Independent Pakistan; but it was that people had become slaves to bigotry, religious passions and barbarity,” says Ayesha Jalal, Professor of History at Tufts University, and grandniece of writer Saadat Hassan Manto. The Pakistani-American historian, who was in Mumbai last week, talks about her book, The Pity of Partition — Manto’s Life, Times and Work Across the India-Pakistan Divide, and other things in an interview with Sukhada Tatke.