Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Kingdom's End" by Saadat Hasan Manto-

"Kingdom's End" by Saadat Hasan Manto  (1949, 5 pages)

The Short Story Initiative  
Hosted by A Simple Clockwork

Nancy C of A Simple Clockwork has converted her weekly event on short stories into a series of month long focuses on different aspects of the short story.   Every month there will be a theme.   I am very excited over this project.   Two and half years ago I had read in five decades of constant reading read maybe at most 20 short stories.   I always said., as most readers do, that I needed something "more substantial" to sink my teeth into.  Since March 2010 I think I must have read close to 2000 short stories.    I think the short story is the oldest literary form, tracing its roots back to at least 6000 years BC in ancient Indian texts.   Anyway the purpose of this post is to let people know about the event and to post briefly on a very great, dark story set in Bombay short story by a master of the art, Saadat Hasan Manto.

Here, take from Nancy's blog are the themes for the year.

September - Getting to know each other
October - Crime/suspense short stories
November - Indian short stories
December - Sci-fi short stories
January - Russian short stories
February - Classic short stories
March - Japanese short stories
April - Speculative fiction
May - Irish short stories
June - Short stories by feminist writers
July - African short stories
August - Award-winning short stories
September - Short stories adapted into movies

Nancy has proposed some question for September to help us get started.

1. Why do you want to join The Short Story Initiative?- To network with others who love short stories and to encourage others to try what is a genre many think they do not like.

2. What kind of short stories do you read? Is there a specific genre or culture or nationality you would like to explore through short stories?- I am seeking to read great short stories, to read the very best. Lately I have been reading a lot of Irish, Filipino, and Indian short stories but I am very open on the nationality of the stories I read.

3. Who is your favorite short story writer? Why?- Tough question, I will list five-Katherine Mansfield, Anton Chekhov, R. K. Narayan, Flannery O'Connor and among the living, Ethel Rohan. I have posted on each of these writers but I have no good answer to why. Maybe after I read another 2000 I will!

4. What is the most memorable short story you have read? Super tough question- "Solid Object" by Virginia Woolf.

5. What is your experience with short stories in the past? Is it a good or bad experience?- Answered this in my opening paragraph

6. Share one book confession when it comes to short stories? Sometimes I keep a great collection of books on my nightstand so I can see it when I get up so I know I have a reason to wake up!

7. Share something about yourself that has nothing to do with short stories. maybe another time.

For my first participation in The Short Story Initiative I will post on a very dark story by Saadat Hasan Manto (1912 to 1955, Pakistan-there is some background information in my prior posts on his work) set in Bombay. Bombay, now known officially as Mumbai, is city in the world from which my blog gets the most readers. I have also read several new novels recently that attempt to lay bare the dark side of the city. All I can say is that Manto already did this 60 years or so ago!

"Kingdom's End" by Saadat Hasan Manto is about an unemployed for years man living in Bombay. He normally sleeps on the pavement but he has gotten some luck lately. A friend is going to be out of town for a few weeks and he invited the man to stay in his office to keep away robbers. The man is perfectly capable of working, he used to be a film director and script writer (Manto was also) but he does not care to be tied down. He lives from charity of people he knows and has taught himself to live on next to nothing and eat what ever he can find. One day the phone rings. It is a woman with a wrong number but he strikes up a conversation with her and she starts calling regularly and they have more and more intimate conversations. He never asks her name, never what she looks like or seeks a meeting. The woman asks him why and he says basically he does not feel like the assertion. The story is short, the ending is terribly sad and grim. It is a small masterwork of the art of the short story.

You can read it here.

I offer my great thanks to Rohan of Rest is still unwritten for the link to this story and several other ones by Manto. He lives in Mumbai and his blog is very interesting source of insight into the culture of the country. I follow it and find it very insightful.

Mel u


Nancy said...

Yehey! I'm happy that you will be joining The Short Story Initiative. I'm always amazed at your diligence to read and blog almost everyday. I am excited to focus on Indian short stories next month. For sure, I will be looking up to your blog for resources. Thanks!

valerie sirr said...

The Short Story Initiative sounds like a great way of bringing readers to the form. Nice work!

Unknown said...

Hi, Valerie. I hope so, too. I'm crossing my fingers that will happen. More than that, it's a way of enjoying more the form, too.

Mel, here is Mr. Linky for September:

Thanks again for joining!

Song said...

That's twice in a row that I've come across Manto. I should check him out I think. Che listed him as a favourite.