The most widely read and the most translated writer in Urdu, Saadat Hasan Manto constantly challenged the hypocrisy and sham morality of civilized society. Out of this rebellious streak, and fuelled by the burning restlessness of his imagination, he produced a powerful body of work that continues to challenge complacency and demand attention. More than half a century after his death at the age of forty-three in Lahore, he remains anathema to the establishment. Saadat Hasan Manto wanted to be remembered as the greatest short-story writer ever; as his epitaph would have it, his only competitor is God. Indeed, he is best known for his Partition stories, where he lays bare the absurdity of the religious divide that would forever unhinge the lives of two nations. No other writer has been able to capture the devastation of Partition as Manto has. But, as this exhaustive anthology shows, Manto’s best work sweeps across genres and states of mind. The short stories shock and seduce, the sketches wring out the sharp brevity of truth, the biographical portraits entice with their candor, the letters to Uncle Sam drip with sarcasm; while the lone play smolders with desire that finds fulfillment in death. Manto also gives us his take on the Bombay film world of his time. This collection also carries intimate observations about Manto by his family and friends. Khalid Hasan’s brilliant translation brings to English Manto’s bite, his lyricism and the authenticity of his voice. MANTO’S PRAYER: Dear God, master of the universe, compassionate and merciful: we who are steeped in sin, kneel in supplication before your throne and beseech you to recall from this world Saadat Hasan Manto, son of Ghulam Hasan Manto, who was a man of great piety. Take him away, Lord, for he runs away from fragrance and chases after filth. He hates the bright sun, preferring dark labyrinths. He has nothing but contempt for modesty but is fascinated by the naked and the shameless.