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Seventh Letter to Uncle Sam

Saadat Hasan Manto (1912–1955) is a giant of South Asian fiction. His Urdu stories, vignettes, anecdotal prose, and satire place him squarely at the center of the Urdu canon. His continued cultural relevance can be attested to new dramatic works centered on his life and writing: the 2018 film Manto by the famous Indian actress, activist, and director Nandita Das, and the 2019 staging of Manto’s work by Motley, the Mumbai theater troupe of the famous Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah.

A Civilized Cemetery

So great are the gifts of English civilization! Has it not given us backward Indians what we used to lack? Has it not told our shameless women how to show off their curves in ever yet newer ways? How to attract men with sleeveless blouses?

Miss Tinman

I was polishing my white shoes when my wife spoke up, “Zaidi’s here.” I gave my shoes to my wife, washed my hands and went into the next room where Zaidi was seated. I was shocked by his appearance.

Miss Mala

When the songwriter Azeem Gobindpuri was hired at ABC Productions, he immediately thought of his friend, the Music Director Bhatsave. Bhatsave was Marathi and had worked with Azeem on several films. Azeem knew how talented he was, and yet how can a man show off his skills when he’s working on stunt films?


This happened eight years ago to the day. My friend Bisheshar Nath’s wedding party was staying in the upscale marriage hall opposite Hindu Sabha College. There were around three hundred fifty guests who, after listening to the performances of famous prostitutes from Amritsar and Lahore, were sound asleep on the floor or in cots in the sprawling building’s many rooms.

The Silent (Silenced) Gap: Reading the Urdu Gothic through Foucault

Michel Foucault’s Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique suggests that the definition of deviant psychological profiles is as much about the operation of state power and the tyranny of Enlightenment rationality as about the norms of psychological reality. Foucault’s discursive and institutional history illuminates how two stories from the Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto’s 1948 volume Chuǥẖad, “Miss Tin Wālā” (“Miss Tinman”) and “Paṛhiye Kalimā” (“God Save Us from Our Sins”), can be read as allegories of colonial oppression.

Adeel’s Journey

Julien Columeau’s stories belong to the genre of biographical fiction. He avers that every story is based upon a real-life person. His writing practice is in keeping with the example of the French writer Pierre Michon who is famous for his fictional biographies of famous artists, anonymous figures, and imaginary artists.

The Road to Golgonooza

T. Motley is the creator of The Road to Golgonooza, a fake jam comic.

inSerial: part fourteen
The Mysteries of Paris

It had just struck ten in the morning. In the middle of a large room on the ground floor, located next to Rodolphe’s office, Murph sat at a desk sealing messages. An usher, dressed in black and wearing a silver chain around his neck, opened the two leaves of the door to the waiting room and announced: “His Excellency, Baron Graün.”


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2020

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