Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Behind the Beautiful Forevers Life Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity From Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo 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 twen

From Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, 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 twenty first century s great, unequal cities.In this brilliantly written, fast paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change andFrom Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, 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 twenty first century s great, unequal cities.In this brilliantly written, fast paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human 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 fifteen 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 t

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Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

  1. Katherine Kate J Boo is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a former reporter and editor for The Washington Post She learned to report at the alternative weekly, Washington City Paper, after which she worked as a writer and co editor of The Washington Monthly magazine Over the years, her reporting from disadvantaged communities has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur Genius grant, and a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing For the last decade, she has divided her time between the United States and India, the birthplace of her husband, Sunil Khilnani Her first book Behind the Beautiful Forevers Life, Death, And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity was published in 2012.

235 Reply to “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity”

  1. I struggled a lot with how to review this because it s hard to separate the quality of the book from how it made me feel So let me first say that Katherine Boo is an excellent writer and a dedicated observer The book often reads like a novel, although it may not be the kind of novel you d want to read Life in the Annawadi slum is brutal, and sometimes your neighbors are the ones most determined to make you suffer The specific residents Boo chose to follow over a four year period ended up embroil [...]

  2. MY RELATIONSHIP WITH KATHERINE BOO DID NOT START WELLWhat, we need another well off well bred well fed well educated white person to tell us about the miseries of extreme poverty in the developing world Because we just know the poor people couldn t tell us themselves It s like in so many movies about the poor countries, you have to have a white guy as the hero The Last King of Scotland, which is about Uganda, or The Constant Gardener, about Kenya and lots I hate that AND THERE WAS THE MATTER OF [...]

  3. This is much scarier than any STEPHEN KING novel I KEPT ON ASKING HOW THIS COULD NOT BE FICTION I knew that Mumbai was impoverished, in the past Yet , I read about the growing middle and professional classes I saw specials on TV, which showed beautiful new apartment complexes According to Boo s book,the Undercity is still there It is being squished as the planners grab every inch from the poor The corruption of every institution is pervasive than I can imagine I wished that this was a novel Thi [...]

  4. I knew this wouldn t be a feel good book, but somehow the evocative title and the tragically poetic cover led me to be unprepared for the shocks that awaited from page one right through to the end.My advice to all who want to read it first, read the author s note at the end, it is excellent It situates the book in its proper context and prepares you to take it seriously Without this anchor, the melodrama of the narrative seems like Days of Our Lives set in Indian slums But apart from the author [...]

  5. It s National Book Lovers Day A day to bask in the amazing power of books to inform, amuse, educate, and alter our views and viewpoints.Rating four horrfied, repulsed, politically appalled stars of fiveSee the review on Shelf Inflicted This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

  6. It s too easy to criticize this book I had three days to spend in Mumbai this February, and, reading my Lonely Planet guidebook, I considered undertaking a slum tour According to Lonely Planet, there was a company that did it right, a sensitive tour An Indian man I met had also recommended it I even called the company But I had to ask myself who had what to gain by it And I couldn t go through with it because it was a question I couldn t answer I d seen the slums from the air, as we descended in [...]

  7. It often happens that I stay up with a book overnight because it is too good to be put down for something as mundane as sleep But it is a rare occurrence when I finish a book, turn the last page and go straight back to the beginning again, without even pausing to consider, without even thinking of a re read, without a thought for the warm inviting bed and without a thought even for the absurd challenge that looms in front of all reading towards the end of a year But this shockingly, heart wrench [...]

  8. Well, here s a nice irony, to be reading this in the week that the results of a UNICEF survey reveal that one in seven German children and young people are unhappy, dissatisfied with their life or situation Germany ranks only 22nd in the category life satisfaction Tssk tssk All those poor little rich kids.It would be a horrendously hackneyed platitude to now bang on about those who are worse off than you what s that supposed to say Look, look, children, look at Mumbai garbage scavengers and the [...]

  9. Rewritten in light of the fact that not even I could understand it due to errors caused by several glasses of very, very expensive wine I had been treated to view spoiler Usually I only drink one or two but then I can only afford plonk hide spoiler I first listened to an abridged version of this book and was intrigued It was a detailed look into a world I knew existed from films and other books It was my interest was kindled than I really enjoyed listening to it the abridgement was too sketchy [...]

  10. A former professor of mine once related to me a story of the time he escorted Brazilian educator and activist Paulo Freire, author of The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, on a driving tour of North Philadelphia To most Americans, North Philly is the kind of neighborhood that defines poverty Vacant and burned out houses, trash filled streets and rampant drug crime To Freire, however, North Philadelphia was a rich place not rich in spirit or hope or faith, but rich as in wealthy, having money, not poor [...]

  11. Find all of my reviews at 52bookminimum 3.5 Stars What you don t want is always going to be with youWhat you want is never going to be with youWhere you don t want to go, you have to goAnd the moment you think you re going to live , you re going to die Behind the Beautiful Forevers Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity has a blurb even longer than its title To briefly sum up the plot, this is a the story of Annawadi, a slum settled right in the heart of the airport and luxury hotels of Mum [...]

  12. Onvan Behind the Beautiful Forevers Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity Nevisande Katherine Boo ISBN 1400067553 ISBN13 9781400067558 Dar 256 Safhe Saal e Chap 2012

  13. Boo won me over when she presented the impoverished people of Annawadi as individuals with worries, ambitions and desires as everyday as yours or mine rather than victims I found myself brokenhearted by the recurrent police and governmental corruption they must wade through in order to just exist Apparently, it isn t enough that most are ill from their habitats and scorned by society In spite of their loss of dreams and position, I was impressed by the resilience of most.This book received a lot [...]

  14. I was greatly moved, and mostly uplifted, by this narrative account of the daily life and careers of real individuals and families in a slum near Mumbai s airport called Annawadi The contrast between the economic haves and have nots is so blatant here Behind a wall emblazoned with an ad for tiles that will be beautiful forever , about 3,000 people live in 335 huts out of site from users of the modern airport and its luxury hotels For most of us, an image or a vignette would be enough to make us [...]

  15. I was excited about reading this book after reading the reviews however, it did not live up to the kudos I found it disjointed and strangely unaffecting for most of its length, and even boring some of the time I was raised in great poverty, and have a first hand understanding of its effects Extreme poverty usually strips civilized behavior from individuals and groups When resources are scarce to non existent, humans generally resort to whatever means necessary to ensure their survival Selfishnes [...]

  16. Stare Stare straight That s the first thing I did after finishing reading it, and for quite a long time I didn t know what I was looking at, or aptly, looking for of course, there was this wall ahead, 3 feet ahead but I wasn t looking at it I was looking for faces faces that I ve imagined floating between my eyes and the pages of the book while I was reading it faces that don t resemble anyone I know, but faces that might resemble closely with the people living right now, even as I write this a [...]

  17. This is an amazing story about families who live and work in a Mumbai slum Katherine Boo spent years reporting in the airport settlement of Annawadi, and the book unfolds like a novel It s a fascinating look at how the underclass tries to survive and get ahead in a 21st century economy One of the things I found most interesting was how the families were constantly fighting with others in the slum, literally over scraps And the police, the courts, the hospitals everyone, really were so corrupted [...]

  18. It s been a distressful morning The milkman won t be delivering the daily liter of milk his house was razed by the local municipality The family of six has to do with a makeshift shanty to prevent them from drowning in the dense showers of late night rains Futile visits to the local political corporator and pleading to a rigid money lender for a loan is what his weekly schedule looks like Troublesome as it is for a detour to the supermarket for packaged milk, my domestic help decided to call it [...]

  19. My final impressions of the book 1 5 2014 So, now I have finished Behind the Beautiful Forevers and I must say, unlike the bulk of people who have read it, I still have issues with it I would have infinitely preferred it if the author written a straightforward novel, based on her research, and friendships made in the Annawadi slum in Mumbai My favourite novels are about different cultures using the term in its broadest sense , but cultures that have been superbly researched, and therefore come a [...]

  20. I ve not read a ton of narrative nonfiction, but Katherine Boo s account of the Annawadi slum in Mumbai and the people who inhabit it makes for a thrilling and moving audiobook Boo took home the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2012 for this novel about the injustice and cyclical nature of poverty in India, so I imagine it is rather well read by my fellow Goodreadians So instead of me telling you what the book is about there s a synopsis or acting like an expert on poverty which I am not , [...]

  21. As I started to read Behind the Beautiful Forevers, I expected a book akin to poverty porn, a literary version of those awful commercials that broadcast photos of downtrodden children on squalid streets whom you can save for only one dollar a day But what I read was both a meticulous character study and a treatise on the livelihoods of an undercity a protest against all forms of corruption and a captivating, almost seemingly fictitious, legal narrative a celebration of 21st century free market c [...]

  22. If you liked Slumdog Millionaire you will probably like this book I hated Slumdog Millionaire and I didn t like this book I know it s a Pulitzer Prize winner, and I really tried Just couldn t get into it It s about Annawadi, a slum that grew up in the area of the airport in Mumbai Boo tells the stories of several people who are trying to rise above their situations Abdul is a smart teenager who sells scrap metal and is saving to move out Asha is a woman who is trying to use political power and c [...]

  23. What disturbed Me most about this book is that it didn t disturb Me How is it that a book about the poorest, most exploited, ignored, trodden upon people didn t evoke feeling or sustain engagement I spent the entire reading reminding myself that these were real people so that I would endeavor to feel something toward their story I m not sure if it was the choice of writing style that of making the story feel like a novel that made this so easy to disengage from or not, but something didn t wo [...]

  24. As Katherine Boo states in her Author s Note, If the house is crooked and crumbling, and the land on which it sits uneven, is it possible to make anything lie straight This applies not only to one of the key incidents in her narrative but to all of India it s judicial system, schools, police, economy, benevolent organizations The crookedness and crumbling are everywhere and the people Boo chooses to visit and document over several years are those on the society s bottom rung.This is a difficult [...]

  25. This book leaves you feeling devastated Yes, I am glad I listened to it I listened to the audiobook narrated perfectly by Sunil Malhorta The shrill women voices are really spot on The author herself narrates the afterword which explains the author s methodology Friends recommended that I listen to that first, which I did, but I listened to it again after completing the book Reading this part twice is what I advise The first time allows you to listen to the details of the individuals and judge th [...]

  26. I had read that this book was well written and would probably win some awards, which is why I picked it up Wow I read through practically in one gulp, hardly coming up for air This is one compelling read, and the truly stunning thing about it is that it is all true You simply cannot walk away untouched The author is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has covered social inequalities in the past This is her first book, in which she chronicles several years from late 2007 to early 2011 in the [...]

  27. A much hyped book I had heard and read a lot about it including high praise from some usually trusty sources While it started on a promising note and held my attention until about the halfway mark, I could sense a growing disappointment with both style and substance The crisp writing aims to punch you in the guts as the unrelenting sequence of misery and death unfolds page after page I get it life in a Mumbai sluim is brutish but the writing style tries too hard to shock and quickly left me jade [...]

  28. I started this book yesterday finished it this morning I bought this book the first week it was released hoping and waiting for my book club to choose it Yet I waited long enough I ve already had some experience living in the slums in India yet, it was not called slums back in 1973 It was called a poor village I experienced the filth, poverty, disease in the streets, almost dead people sitting under filthy sinks reaching for drips of water in train bathrooms dirty hospitals trying to get help my [...]

  29. This is an essential book for anyone who cares about the plight of slum dwellers around the world Ms Boo has written a powerful, unforgettable description of a slum in Mumbai which is teetering on the brink of annihilation The residents eke out a miserable day to day existence grateful that they haven t yet joined the multitude of pavement dwellers whose lives are even abject The reader would like to imagine that she made this up The fact that it depicts the underbelly of the economic miracle w [...]

  30. One of those books that gets better with a re read There is so much here It makes a good book to use in reading classes.Old Review So wow Using the micro chasm of a few families in an Indian slum, Boo looks at how economic forces control lives for removed for the big CEO The thing I found most interesting is that while there is no real moral compass, there is no condemning of various people at all Take the character of Asha it would ve been very easy for Boo to make her a total bitch, but she di [...]

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