In times of crisis, few people have patience for complexity and ambiguity. When the economy fails -- as it did spectacularly in 1929, and almost did in 2008 -- we want to know who to blame and who to punish.
Americans, it would seem, can never read Ernest Hemingway's fiction without a picture of Hemingway the man in mind; the writer's mythology threatens to supplant the force of his work. If there is a comparable figure in Indian literature, it is Sadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955), whose centenary is May 11. Manto, who wrote in Urdu, was both the enfant terrible of his literary milieu and the sharpest and most disillusioned observer of the extraordinarily fascinating political currents of his age.