Muhammad Umar Memon has published an important essay on Manto in the Books section of Dawn today.
It is about time that we discarded the myth about Manto tacitly following some Progressive-Socialist-Reformist agenda in his fiction; if anything, he was following his own agenda as a writer true to his calling.
Lest the above sound too partisan, I am only arguing for the self-sufficiency and autonomy of fiction. No writer lives outside of his time and place. Something of his environment and its peculiar aura will inevitably find its way into his writing. Moreover, unlike poetry, the linear structure of prose makes it impossible to transcend time and place. To read fiction merely as a social or political document is a fundamental outrage against its nature. We cannot judge it by extraneous criteria. Its success or failure will be determined by whether it has lived up to its own promise.
Read the full essay.