Behind the Beautiful Forevers: life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity

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Scribe Publications Pty Limited, Feb 22, 2012 - Social Science - 288 pages
6 Reviews

From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo comes a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the world’s most lively but treacherous cities.

Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport and, as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees ‘a fortune beyond counting’ in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter — Annawadi’s ‘most-everything girl’ — will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a 15-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call ‘the full enjoy’.

But then Abdul the garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power, and economic envy turn brutal. As the tenderest individual hopes intersect with the greatest global truths, the true contours of a competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the imaginations and courage of the people of Annawadi.

With intelligence, humour, and deep insight into what connects human beings in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries the reader headlong into one of the 21st century’s hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.

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Review: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity

User Review  - Mayde Robertson - Goodreads

All I can say is wow. This true story is both poignant and eye opening. Very well written it portrays a real sense of what it is to live in the slums of India. I feel like it did not over romanticize ... Read full review

Review: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity

User Review  - Deirdre Bauer - Goodreads

Not sure that I ever got to the hope part of this book. None of the people in this narrative non-fiction escape the shackles of poverty like in Slum Dog Millionaire, nor are you left with hope that ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

Katherine Boo, a staff writer for The New Yorker, has spent the last 20 years reporting from within poor communities, considering how societies distribute opportunity and how individuals get out of poverty. She learned to report at The Washington City Paper. She was also an editor of the Washington Monthly and, for nearly a decade, a reporter and editor at The Washington Post. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, her first book, received the United States' National Book Award. Her magazine and newspaper work has been recognised with a MacArthur Fellowship, a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, and the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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