Ayesha Jalal uses Manto's life and work to probe the creative tension between literature and history Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955) was an established Urdu short story writer and a rising screenwriter in Bombay at the time of India's partition in 1947 and he is perhaps best known for the short stories he wrote following his migration to Lahore in newly formed Pakistan. Today Manto is an acknowledged master of twentieth-century Urdu literature and his fiction serves as a lens through which the tragedy of partition is brought sharply into focus. In The Pity of Partition Manto's life and work serve as a prism to capture the human dimension of sectarian conflict in the final decades and immediate aftermath of the British Raj. Ayesha Jalal draws on Manto's stories sketches and essays as well as a trove of his private letters to present an intimate history of partition and its devastating toll. Probing the creative tension between literature and history she charts a new way of reconnecting the histories of individuals families and communities in the thrones of cataclysmic change. Jalal brings to life the people locales and events that inspired Manto's fiction which is characterized by an eye for detail a measure of wit and irreverence and elements of suspense and surprise. In turn she mines these writings for fresh insights into everyday cosmopolitanism in Bombay and Lahore the experience and causes of partition the postcolonial transition and the advent of the Cold War in South Asia.