Bombay Stories is a fantastic sample of the work of one of the most important figures in Indian literature. The stories told by Manto, although written in the 1930s and 1940s, have aged gracefully – on one hand, we get cosmopolitan Bombay (in most cases described with nostalgia by the author after emigrating to Pakistan), and on the other hand, surprisingly intimate stories about people and relations between them. So here we have a young girl forced into prostitution, yet innocent and full of life, an unhappy boy who tells incredible stories until he starts to believe them himself, and a disturbing, lyrical love story between a Muslim man and a Jewish woman.
In the times in which they were written, Manto’s stories were often considered scandalous – his protagonists make morally dubious choices, the portrayed characters usually come from the lower classes, practically all women are prostitutes, and the author does not shy away from eroticism. However, there is something incredibly humanizing in his writng – the point of these stories is not to show moral decline, poverty or class problems, but the characters themselves, who, due to their individual characteristics, become the object of his fascination.