Book review of Armchair Revolutionaries and other Sketches by Saadat Hasan Manto

The Armchair Revolutionary and Other Sketches

“I heap a thousand curses on a world, on a civilized country, and on a civilized society, which legislates that after death every person’s character and personality must be sent to the laundry from where it returns having been cleaned in order to be hung on the hook of respectability.”……… Manto in the preface of  original edition Ganje Farishte

Why I Picked This Book?

Saadat Hasan Manto as eveyone knows is known for calling a spade a spade. He is known to write things as they are without sugarcoating them. I came across this book while surfing my kindle, a quick look and I knew this one will be a fun to read. 

The Book

The Armchair Revolutionary and Other Sketches is a collection of  eleven sketches of his friends from his early days to his Bombay days. It is short memoirs of the people he was close to and friends with. But with Manto at the helm, you are sure of one thing that it will tell a lot about the person without holding anything back.

The original edition was in Urdu  named as  ” Ganje Farishtey” and is translated by Khalid Hasan. It has the the profile of  Ashok Kumar, his friend Shyam, the actress Nargis, the singer  Nur Jehan among others. 

As Manto is known for writing things as they are, so you will find a lot of personal details in each sketch. As happens with  great writers, this books captures the time period of the incidents very well. Along with telling you about the people whom he choose to write about it tells a lot of Manto also and you will find that it in the conversation that he had with his various friends in each of the sketches or stories.

Through his conversation with people around him and his writings about the people you will know that Manto is the person who doesn’t minces his words, none the least to please someone. This shows in each of the sketches. There are some interesting anecdotes about the people he is writing about, which might bring a smile to your face. 

With each sketch, the reader will know about the person who the author is talking about. Know more about the Bombay film industry of thirties and forties and that too the insider’s perspective.

About The Author

Saadat Hasan Manto (11 May 1912 – 18 January 1955) was a colonial Indian and Pakistani writer, playwright and author born in Ludhiana, India.Writing mainly in the Urdu language, he produced 22 collections of short stories, a novel, five series of radio plays, three collections of essays and two collections of personal sketches. His best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. Manto was known to write about the hard truths of society that no one dared to talk about. He is best known for his stories about the partition of India, which he opposed, immediately following independence in 1947.

Manto was tried for obscenity six times; thrice before 1947 in British India, and thrice after independence in 1947 in Pakistan, but was never convicted.He is acknowledged as one of the finest 20th century Urdu writers and is the subject of two biographical films: Manto, directed by Sarmad Khoosat and the 2018 film Manto, directed by Nandita Das.

Our Verdict

Go for it


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