In his Introduction, Memon traces the
evolution of the Urdu short story from its origins in the work
of writers like Munshi Premchand—‘the first professional
short story writer in Urdu’— through the emergence of the
Progressives in the late 1930s, whose writings were
unabashedly political and underpinned their Marxist ideologies, to the post-Independence
‘Modernist’ era, and today’s generation of avant-garde, experimental writers of Urdu fiction.
Every story in the anthology illustrates one or the other facet of the form in the Urdu literary
tradition. But even more than for their formal technique and inventiveness, these stories have
been included because of their power and impact on the reader. Death and poverty face off in
Premchand’s masterpiece ‘The Shroud’. In Khalida Asghar’s ‘The Wagon’, a mysterious redness
begins to cloak the sunset in a village by the Ravi. Behind closed doors and cracks in the
windows lies desire but also ‘a sense of queer foreboding’ in Naiyer Masud’s ‘Obscure Domains
of Fear and Desire’. The tragedy and horror of Partition are brought to life by Saadat Hasan
Manto’s lunatic (in ‘Toba Tek Singh’) and the eponymous heroine of Rajinder Singh Bedi’s
‘Laajwanti’. Despairing, violent, passionate, humorous, ironic and profound—the fiction in The
Greatest Urdu Stories Ever Told will imprint itself indelibly on your mind.
Number of Pages:
Rupa & Co
Muhammad Umar Memon
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