cover image The Dog of Tithwal: Stories

The Dog of Tithwal: Stories

Saadat Hasan Manto, trans. from the Urdu by Khalid Hasan and Muhammad Umar Memon. Archipelago, $24 (418p) ISBN 978-1-953861-00-9

This sardonic collection from Manto (1912–1955), some of which appeared in previous translations in Bombay Stories, reflects the ruptures in India during the Partition. Many of the stories evoke human foibles, such as when a young man ensconced in an office pines for a woman he has only met over the phone in “Kingdom’s End,” which also pokes fun at religious concepts such as “the dominion.” The story ends on a darkly humorous note when the young man dies, after saying weeks earlier that he had been “dying to meet” the woman. The title story centers on a stray dog vacillating between a cohort of Pakistani soldiers and a cadre of Hindu soldiers positioned on two opposing hilltops, as each side attempts to secure the dog’s allegiance. In “Licence,” Abu runs a lucrative chauffeur business until he becomes enamored with Nestia, a young woman he eventually marries. Before the story ends, he’s in prison and she’s forced to give up coach driving for prostitution. Throughout, the author’s clever use of irony and dark humor speaks truth to power and to the characters’ flimsy received notions. Manto’s stories succeed as surprising reflections on the human condition. (Sept.)