I was delighted to learn about two events in New York City that will be held in honor of the birth centenary of Saadat Hasan Manto, who was born on May 11, 1912. The events will take place in Manhattan on May 11 and May 15. Listings for both events can be found on the new blog Phar’aat, by Debashree Mukherjee, a student in the cinema studies department at NYU, who is also one of the organizers and panelists for May 11. (By the way, from what I see so far, I think that blog will be excellent.)
The event on May 11 is Manto’s Bombay: Conversations on His Centenary, which will take place from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm at the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, at NYU (West 3rd Street and Sullivan Street). (For people who want to discuss and RSVP, Debashree has also set up a Facebook page.) And judging by some of the description, this event looks to be interesting, indeed:
This symposium looks at Manto’s relationship with Bombay by placing at the centre a collection of stories titled Chughad. Published in 1948, Chughad was the last set of stories written by Manto before he moved to Lahore after the Partition. Here we see Manto playing the flâneur-chronicler who fluidly traverses multiple urban sites and picks up impressions, traces, and insights along the way. Many of these stories are set against the backdrop of the Bombay film industry and offer provocative views on gender and work in a self-consciously modernizing city.
The May 15 event is Rereading Manto’s “Letters to Uncle Sam” in Perilous Times. With Saadia Toor. This will take place at 6pm, at Alwan for the Arts, on 16 Beaver Street (at the bottom of Manhattan, near the Staten Island Ferry).
Saadia Toor is an associate professor of sociology at the College of Staten Island, an activist, and the author of The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics In Pakistan. She will “lead a discussion on the contemporary relevance of Manto’s pithy and irreverent Letters to Uncle Sam (1951-1954), written from Lahore in the final years of the author’s life, and in the shadow of the Cold War.”
I have to say I am very glad to see an event like this happening in New York City. I was disappointed not to see a decent event last year in New York for the Faiz centenary (the closest one that I knew of was in Philly), but judging by these listings, at least Manto will be given a good 100th birthday here.