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Kingdom's End and Other Stories Hardcover – April, 1988

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Born in what is now the Indian state of Punjab, the Urdu writer Manto (1912-55) lived by his pen as journalist, essayist, screenwriter; his continuing popularity in his homeland, however, rests on more than 200 short stories, many revolving around the central event of his generationthe departure of the English overlords in 1947 and the Partition of the subcontinent into hostile states, Hindu and Muslim. Bombay, where Manto spent much of his working life, is the scene of many of his stories, about drifters, drinkers, gamblers and other marginal types. But historic events provide the tension, as in "It Happened in 1919," when Gandhi was denied freedom of movement, a despotic act that triggered bloody rioting in that year, and in the bizarre, caustic "Toba Tek Singh," where the inmates of lunatic asylums are exchanged, each to the appropriate nation, depending on religion, adding to the general madness of Partition. Manto sometimes displays a weakness for tricky devices, as in the self-indulgent title story, where an odd love affair of strangers takes place entirelyfrom accidental inception to fatal conclusionon the telephone. There's no denying Manto's talent for vivid description and narrative momentum, yet the relative remoteness of the Partition in time, place and culture will probably continue to deny his work a sizable Western audience.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books (April 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860911837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860911838
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 9 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,225,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kirk T. Huff on April 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Saadat Hasan Manto is generally considered the greatest short story writer of the Urdu language, centered on the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. Kingdom's End and Other Stories is a collection of many of his best work which is marked by incredible writing talent, unsentimental realism, and a D.H. Lawrentian approach to sensuality. However, the reader should be aware that most of the short stories in this collection revolve around the events of Partition, a horrific episode of history. Manto's characters are flawed, often capable of the most grotesque acts, and utterly believable. Khalid Hasan has done a wonderful job in his translations and I recommend this book to anyone looking for intelligent, brilliantly written fiction. It's out of print, but definitely worth a search through online and local bookstores.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Reader in Tokyo on November 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book was published in 1987 and contained 24 short stories. It was one of the earlier anthologies in English of Manto's work.

Manto (1912-55) has been called one of the finest -- if not the greatest -- writers of short stories in Urdu. He authored some 250 stories, in addition to essays, journalism, filmscripts and a play. The translator, Khalid Hasan, claimed that the stories in this collection were representative of his best work and that even as late as the mid-1980s he remained the most widely read author in Pakistan and India, though the establishments of both countries had always found him an embarrassment.

He's been praised for his iconoclastic vision and lack of sectarianism, his compassion for the defenseless and scorn for the hypocritical. And particularly in his stories on communal rioting and partition, for the dramatic manner in which he showed the fate of the defenseless and the brutality of the victimizers. The society of his time, during his career from the mid-1930s to mid-50s, was said to have been scandalized by the focus on low life in a number of his stories, and this too appears to have added to his reputation.

The pieces in this collection were of several types. A few were set in Punjab, the author's birthplace, in the countryside or in the city, with the struggle for independence or communal riots in the background. Others were set among toughs, prostitutes, pimps, actresses and patrons, mainly in Bombay, before partition. Some of these tales were written as if drawn directly from Manto's own life, with the author appearing in them, and some were written in the third person. Still other works were set in various locations during or just after partition, showing the chaos and tragedy of that event.
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By J. Smallridge on December 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
Some of my favorite stories are featured in this collection. In particular I enjoyed Toba Tek Singh's work about the mental institute and the pains of partition. It, better than almost anything I've read, captures the absurdity of a tragic situation.
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