Who tells the greatest story — God or Manto? Dozakhnama: Conversations in Hell is an extraordinary novel, a biography of Manto and Ghalib and a history of Indian culture rolled into one. Exhumed from dust, Manto’s unpublished novel surfaces in Lucknow. Is it real or is it a fake? In this dastan, Manto and Ghalib converse, entwining their lives in shared dreams. The result is an intellectual journey that takes us into the people and events that shape us as a culture. As one writer describes it, ‘I discovered Rabisankar Bal like a torch in the darkness of the history of this subcontinent. This is the real story of two centuries of our own country.’ Rabisankar Bal’s audacious novel, told by reflections in a mirror and forged in the fires of hell, is both an oral tale and a shield against oblivion. An echo of distant screams. Inscribed by the devil’s quill, Dozakhnama is an outstanding performance of subterranean memory.
Dozakhnama by Rabisankar Bal & Arunava Sinha (Translator)
Author: Rabisankar Bal and Arunava Sinha(Translator)
Publishing Date: November 1st, 2010
Publisher: Random House India
“Anyone can write history. All it needs is memory. But to write a story you must have the power to dream.”
This book is so famous in my country like I was seeing it on every bookshop which made me not to read it, Last year I saw it with one relative and opened it and after a few glances I knew I have to read it, So finally I did. It took me solid 5 days to finish it but it was worth it.
It is a story about a writer who found an old manuscript of Saadat Hussain Manto’s unpublished novel, which is in Urdu so he decided to learn the Urdu language. The novel of Manto’s novel is the communication between Saadat Hussain Manto and Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan aka Mirza Ghalib, in the grave.
Mirza Ghalib is considered as the last great poet of Mughal Era, his ghazals are still reading and singing by people in Indo-Pak.
Saadat Hussain Manto was an Indian-Pakistan writer, Manto was known to write about the hard truths of the society that no one dared to talk about, in other words, his stories were highly controversial and considered bold.
It is the first time I read a book which has the same style as in Urdu, or because it is about people I’ve been known for all of my life, the poetry we use in our daily conversation and studies in school/college.
“Their lives are like measuring tapes, and they want to trim the lives of other people to same measurements”
I loved the writing and the way both communicate with each other their style, use of all those local tellings, afsansa, poetries, and history. Ghalib was from Era of Mughals he watched the journey greatness of Culture to Sepoy of Mutiny when the Mughal Era was taking its last breath to the dark time where all that culture was on the edge of being banished from the world. How it affects the people what were the actions and emotions of people, How it changed Ghalib’s life from a Turkish descendent proud aristocrat to a poet who was just trying to save his and his family’s skin by selling his pen. It was really heartbreaking.
“I’m not the flowering of a song, nor the flow of melody
I am the echo of the shattering sound of my defeat”
Manto, a unique and alcohol addicted struggling writer who falls in love with Bombay, watched partition and all the horrors, wrote controversial and bold stories which lead him to courts. How his family suffered because of him or how he suffered because of him.
“And by then I had understood that any ghazal that could not pierce your heart completely and instantly, like an arrow, had no value as a work of art.”
It is so hard to decide either Ghalib was more stubborn or Manto, but one thing is crystal clear both of these characters are too unique to find others like them.
I really loved this book.