The legendary Saadat Hassan Manto needs no introduction. He is a man every literature lover is familiar with. Manto’s books and stories are available all over the internet in both physical books and eBooks format, but what if I tell you that there is even a better way to consume Manto’s works?
Through the immersive experience of audiobooks, Manto’s stories can now be accessed and cherished in the most engaging manner.
But that’s not all!
The biggest news is that Toba Tek Singh, one of Manto’s best works ever, has been recreated in the rich baritone of Anupam Kher’s voice, which is an experience in itself.
In the below paragraphs, I tell you about my experience with audiobooks and why I strongly recommend them to all my readers.
I also take you through the best short stories by Saadat Hassan Manto that are must-haves on your TBR.
The legendary Manto
Saadat Hassan Manto was an author, playwright, and writer born in Ludhiana of British India, who later moved to Pakistan. He is most known for his works in the Urdu language in which he wrote 22 short story collections, 3 collections of essays, five collections of radio plays, and two series of sketches.
What Manto wrote about and why people love him?
Manto was opposed to the idea of Partition and often covered the bloody tragedy in his stories. He was known for his brutally honest portrayal of dark truths. His stories would carry his social commentaries that often spoke the truth at a time when others were trying to ignore it.
What many readers don’t know is that Manto was tried for obscenity on multiple occasions but could never be convicted.
Manto was surely a man ahead of his time. Even today, nearly seven decades after his death, his works remain as relevant as ever.
The lure of Manto combined with the magic of audiobooks
The magic of Manto is multiplied many times over, especially when one consumes his stories in the audiobook format. The narrations are lively and vividly bring out the ethos of the bygone era that Manto writes about.
My favorite audiobook app
Ever the eager being to try new things, I have been listening to audiobooks since they were first accessible in India. I remember it was the early days of the year 2018 and I wanted to try for myself the comfort and convenience of audiobooks.
I took the Storytel subscription because it offered some great value for money. Needless to state, once I started there was no going back. I loved the flexibility, choices, and options that they offered. Ever since those early days of 2018, I have been a regular user.
But before I tell you more about my favorite audiobook app, for which by the way, I have a fantastic deal, here are some reasons why I find audiobooks irresistible.
Why do I recommend audiobooks?
I’ve been listening to audiobooks for years now, and my reading has only gotten better. There are many reasons that make me recommend audiobooks.
- They allow flexibility
Audiobooks are a great option when it comes to flexibility. They allow me to get reading done while doing house chores like cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, washing, etc. They also prove to be a great accompaniment while I am out on my evening walk.
2. They provide a wholesome experience
Audiobooks have excellent production quality. It’s not just listening to someone read out loud. The narrators use their skills to bring out the drama and emotions in the book. Some audiobooks have sound effects and music as well. Some even have multiple narrators for multiple characters.
3. They help you consume more books
Audiobooks are not a replacement for real books, but they do help one to consume more books. They are especially great during slumps as they allow you to effortlessly get back to books. I have personally beaten many slumps because of audiobooks.
4. Respite for the eyes
If you are someone like me whose work involves a great amount of screen time, then you would certainly know the pain of dry and tired eyes. Audiobooks are especially great when you want to give your eyes some rest. Just put on those cucumbers or eye cooling pads and binge listen to your favorite books.
5. A great place to start
Many people want to get into books but don’t know where to start. Some also find it difficult to concentrate on the written word. For such people, audiobooks are a great way to read and learn.
6. An awesome option before bedtime
Many of us find it difficult to get rid of our phones before sleeping, and often scroll meaninglessly for hours before actually falling asleep. Audiobooks are a great alternative to this. They not only help you relax and give respite to your eyes; they also aid in visualization that makes it easier to fall asleep. Not to mention all the reading that you end up catching on.
7. Help me beat lockdown blues
Audiobooks were great during the dull and dreary lockdown days when there was little one could do for recreation. I would take my phone to the terrace, plug in my earphones and listen to a carefully curated book, while also completing my required steps for the day.
8. My 5-year-old loves it
Even on normal days, it’s a task to keep children occupied with creative and productive activities and keep them away from mindless hours of YouTubing. This was especially difficult during the lockdown phase. Thankfully, I had Storytel to the rescue. My daughter enjoys the many mythological and bedtime tales that are available on the platform, and the Champak stories are her absolute favorites.
Where to get audiobooks?
Today, there are many options available for audiobooks in India. While Audible and Storytel remain the biggest players in the market, there are also other options like Kobo, Librivox, and Spotify. Personally, I find Storytel to be the best. It’s pocket-friendly and provides great value for money.
Why I prefer Storytel?
There are many reasons why I have been addicted to Storytel for the last 4 years.
- Its great value for money
Storytel is way more affordable than other options. It’s easy on the pocket. Priced at INR 199 per month, it allows you to access lakhs of books in multiple languages. As a special limited period offer, it is now available for INR 375 for a 90 days period. You can avail of this discount via a custom link here.
2. Cost benefits when compared to physical books
I am always looking forward to international bestsellers. When they are released in India, a single book can cost anywhere between INR 400 to INR 800, and that’s a lot of money. Storytel allows me to choose from hundreds of the latest releases in just INR 200 per month. As someone who listens to between 5 to 7 audiobooks a month, the cost per book is very affordable for me.
3. Unlimited collection across all genres
Storytel has over 2 lakhs plus titles across all genres. It doesn’t matter if you are a mystery and thriller lover or a young adult reader. From children’s fiction and non-fiction to classics, romance, poetry, religion and spirituality, short stories, fantasy, crime, thriller, horror, economy and business, self-help and personal development, history, etc. – Storytel offers all genres of books.
4. Access to unlimited eBooks
For the same subscription, Storytel also offers access to unlimited eBooks. They have thousands of titles which you can choose from.
5. Great features and interface
The app interface is really good and comes with a lot of options. You can put on a sleep timer and also control the speed of the narration. You can add bookmarks and save your books on your bookshelf. You can also directly share your current reads on Instagram, and give reviews with the help of emojis.
6. So many languages on offer
They offer books in not just English and Hindi but also many regional languages like Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Urdu, Malayalam, Assamese, Gujarati, and Odia.
7. You can also read offline
One of the best features of Storytel is that it allows you to download your books and listen to them in offline mode. This feature is especially helpful while commuting and traveling.
8. Celebrity audiobooks are the best
From international celebrities like David Attenborough, Jamie Parker, Tom Hanks, Natalie Portman, and Reese Witherspoon to Indian celebs like Anupam Kher, Konkana Sen Sharma, Soha Ali Khan, Prakash Raj, Rahul Bose, etc, many celebrity narrators lend their beautiful voices to audiobooks making the experience much more immersive and engaging.
Manto’s magic recreated in Anupam Kher’s rich baritone
A piece of exciting news that I cannot wait to share with you guys is that Storytel has collaborated with celebrated actor Anupam Kher to create one of Manto’s most popular works – Toba Tek Singh. The richness of his baritone combined with the magic of Manto’s writing is an experience nobody ought to miss.
And now, it’s time for some book recommendations!
Below is the list of 10 must-read short stories by Saadat Hasan Manto, which are available on the audiobook app Storytel.
- Cold Meat (Thanda Gosht)
Kulwant, the mistress of Ishar Singh suspects him of infidelity. In an act of jealousy, in a spur-of-the-moment decision, she stabs him with his own dagger. As Ishar Singh lies on his death bed, he finally confesses his deeds, but his crimes are much bigger than what Kulwant had suspected. Beaten by emotional, mental, and physical trauma, Ishwar finally becomes a lifeless piece of cold meat.
2. Toba Tek Singh
Toba Tek Singh is one of Manto’s most popular works. It is a story that reflects the sad realities of Partition, one that blurs the fine lines between mental illness and sanity. Bishan Singh is a native of a small village in Pakistan called Toba Tek Singh. Bishan is currently living in a mental asylum in Lahore where it is planned that all Sikh and Hindu mental patients will be moved to India. He longs to be back in his village but is in deep emotional turmoil and an identity crisis when he comes to know of his imminent transfer to India. Deeply disturbing and traumatic, Toba Tek Singh is a must-read for all.
3. Black Salwar
Sultana, a small-town prostitute dreams of a life in the city. She moves to the city to fulfill her dreams. However, despite her many efforts and seduction techniques, she is failing in her business. Her failure and desperations get manifested in her desire to complete her attire for the festival of Muharram. Her obsession with the black salwar acquaints the reader with much more than the state of her mind.
Momin is a teenage boy who develops a curiosity about sex when his body starts to change. As his racy hormones drive him curious, he finds the blouse of Shakeela. Shakeela is the eldest daughter of Deputy Sahib where Momin works as a servant. The blouse has been specially tailored for the occasion of Eid, but when Momin finds it, he is unable to contain both his desires and his body.
5. The Dog of Tithwal
A dog is caught in the crossfire between two hostile armies who are at war. The story takes a dig at wars, and how they destruct everything in their path. Caught between the brutal forces of two enemies, the dog here is symbolic of innocent lives and humanity.
6. Das Rupay
Das Rupay is the story of a young child Sarita who lives in Bombay with her mother. Living a life of abject poverty after the demise of her father, Sarita is pushed into prostitution by her mother, who likes to maintain the façade of her daughter’s innocence in public.
7. Khol Do
Khol Do narrates the appalling story of a young girl who, during the ongoing partition, loses sight of his father. Confused and subsequently lost in the sea of humanity, she is later taken in by the men of her own religion, raped and gang-raped repeatedly. The violence and barbarity reflected in the story show just how savage the world had become.
8. 1919 Ki Ek Baat
While the backdrop of the book is the Rowlatt Act of 1919 and the terrifying tragedy of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that killed thousands of unarmed Indians, the story specifically talks about the outcasts of society. It narrates the story of the son of a prostitute and his sisters.
Boo narrates the tale of a man who is captivated by a smelly unclean woman on the street. In the name of helping her temporarily escape the harsh realities of the streets, he takes advantage of her body. He is smitten by her body and drawn to her filthy smell. When he marries a refined clean woman, he is unable to love her body. The smell of the unclean street woman haunts his memory.
10. Nangi Awazein
Bholu, a hardworking city man sweats the whole day selling his craft. At night, to avoid the dreariness of the summer heat, Bholu, like others in his building, sleeps on the terrace. When Bholu marries, he is unable to be with his wife, as the lack of privacy concerns him and makes him nervous. Withdrawn and saddened, he finally feels defeated upon becoming aware of his wife’s dissatisfaction.
11. Shah Daule Ka Chooha
Salima was married at the age of 21 years. Even five years after her marriage, her womb remains barren. Eager to have a child, she decides to pay visits to the Shah Daule shrine in Gujarat where it is believed that even barren women can conceive, given they follow certain rules and sacrifice their firstborn.
So, here were some of the most popular stories by the writer.
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. Do let me know your thoughts below.
Also, don’t forget to avail special limited-time offer for the Storytel subscription.