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Saadat Hasan Manto (11 May 1912 – 18 January 1955) was a Pakistani writer, playwright and author born in Ludhiana, who was active in British India and later, after the 1947 partition of India, in Pakistan. Known for his candid and often provocative narratives, Manto has been widely credited as one of South Asia’s most accomplished modernist fiction writers.
Life and Career
Saadat Hasan Manto was born on 11 May 1912 in Samrala in the British Indian state of Punjab. He came of age during an era of significant civil unrest amid the growing movement to liberate India from British rule. Despite early troubles in school, Manto discovered a passion for literature, and by his early twenties, he had published his own translations of European classics in his native Urdu tongue. He soon progressed to original fiction, channeling his iconoclastic spirit into short stories like the aptly titled “Revolutionary” (“Inqilab Pasand”, 1935).
By the 1940s, Manto’s Urdu literature was a tour de force. Through his unfiltered exploration of marginalized characters and social taboos, he charted controversial territory that few writers dared to explore. The partitioning of India in 1947 prompted Manto’s migration to the newly formed Pakistan, and he is perhaps best remembered for his work examining this tumultuous historical moment. Manto published 22 collections of short stories throughout his prolific career, but he wasn’t limited to the medium; he also wrote a novel, three collections of essays, over 100 radio plays, and more than 15 film scripts.
Saadat Hasan Manto died on 18 January 1955, in Lahore, Pakistan, at the age of 42. He had moved to Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947.
Award and Legacy
Saadat Hasan Manto’s writings had a profound impact on Urdu literature and continue to be celebrated today. His stories are known for their raw and realistic depiction of social issues and human emotions. Manto’s works have been translated into various languages, and his influence extends beyond Urdu literature, inspiring writers and filmmakers globally. He is remembered as a fearless writer who fearlessly exposed the dark truths of society.
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