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Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (edition 2012)

by Katherine Boo

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,1061983,127 (4.11)1 / 347
Member:jpyvr
Title:Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
Authors:Katherine Boo
Info:Random House (2012) Kindle Edition
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Kindle, Nonfiction, Journalism, India, Prizewinners

Work details

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

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English (202)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (204)
Showing 1-5 of 202 (next | show all)
Amazing book! ( )
  ubertar | Jun 24, 2015 |
This is one of the best books I've read in awhile. I fell in love with it before I realized it was non-fiction and enjoyed it that much more from there on out! It was so great to see the normalcy amidst the chaos of life in the slum and the feeling that you were right there in the midst of it. I've visited similar places in other countries and I felt like I could smell the smells and hear the noises of that place. The writing style with lots of action keep me intrigued and turning the pages. Hats off to Katherine for all of the research that went into this amazing book! Definitely recommend! ( )
  The_reading_swimmer | Jun 21, 2015 |
I recommend that one begins reading this book with the "Author's Note." Katherine Boo is a great writer who had the perseverance to undertake a daunting task- writing about life in a Mumbai slum situated on the edge of an airport and high-end hotels. "Life" in the slum is appalling. I found it hard to finish the book because life in the slum is so wretched. Required reading for anyone concerned about income inequality and man's inhumanity to man.... ( )
  jaylcee | May 9, 2015 |
Life in the slums of Mumbai is so grim, it's hard to say "I really liked this book"--but it is an extraordinary work of research and reporting. Furthermore, unlike most books I read, it's one I will carry in my memory for a long time. Katherine Boo came to know the people of Annawadi so well, investing herself for years in their lives, that her book reads like a novel.

Yet what occurred to me as I read about the fights, the corruption, and the lack of compassion evident among the slum dwellers, is that these same qualities are also present among the privileged--one of the advantages of privilege is that they just can express them in more refined ways. The Annawadians may sometimes show a shocking disregard for their children; maybe if they had more money, they could farm out their kids to other caregivers so they could pursue their careers. The Annawadians might walk by a man in pain who has just been hit by a truck, paying him no mind; yet I see "respectable" people walking by needy people everyday in my own city.

Boo waits until the last page of the book to express her opinion:

"In places where government priorities and market imperatives create a world so capricious that to help a neighbor is to risk your ability to feed your family, and sometimes even your own liberty, the idea of the mutually supportive poor community is demolished. The poor blame one another for the choices of governments and markets, and we who are not poor are ready to blame the poor just as harshly. ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
This was an incredible look into another world and one I usually see only through a microscope of others'opinions. People living in a slum in a Mumbai are portrayed as they are, and they are in many ways just like us. The examples of real people who are striving for a better way to live within the confines of what they have, are very much like the strivings of all of us.

The worst was the corruption that reached down to the local police. Everyone had to be paid.

Or perhaps not, even worse was the hopelessness of young girls who saw no way out of a miserable life in a debasing marriage.

Makes you long for change.
  Cyss | Apr 4, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 202 (next | show all)
Boo, in letting go of her story, in dwelling with it relatively briefly in her book's 250 pages (in contrast to the years she spent with the slum-dwellers), allows it to resonate with us as a small classic of contemporary writing.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Katherine Booprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Malhotra, SunilReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For two Sunils
and what they've taught me about not giving up
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Midnight was closing in, the one-legged woman was grievously burned, and the Mumbai police were coming for Abdul and his father.
Quotations
“Instead, powerless individuals blamed other powerless individuals for what they lacked. Sometimes they tried to destroy one another. Sometimes, like Fatima, they destroyed themselves in the process.”
She was damaged, and acknowledged it freely. She was illiterate--acknowledged that, too. But when others spoke of her fury as an ignorant, animal thing, that was bukwaas, utter nonsense. Much of her outrage derived from a belated recognition that she was as human as anyone else.
. . . He still found it strange to think of her as dead, because at Annawadi he hadn't considered her fully alive. Like many of his neighbors, he had assessed her damage, physical and emotional, and casually assigned her to a lesser plane of existence. . . .
In the West, and among some in the Indian elite, this word, "corruption", had purely negative connotations; it was seen as blocking India's modern, global ambitions. But for the poor of a country where corruption thieved a great deal of opportunity, corruption was one of the genuine opportunities that remained.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and a India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a teenager who sorts and sells recyclable airport garbage, believes that he's on the verge of lifting his family of eleven out of poverty. Asha, a mother of three, is determined to make her sensitive teenage daughter, Manju, the first female college graduate in Annawadi. Meanwhile, even the poorest among them, like Kalu, a homeless, fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, feel themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call the "Full Enjoy." But then Abdul is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terrorism and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. As the true contours of an unequal, desperately competitive market city are revealed, so too are the resilience and ingenuity of the people of Annawadi. (978-1-4000-6755-8)
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Profiles everyday life in the settlement of Annawadi as experienced by a Muslim teen, an ambitious rural mother, and a young scrap metal thief, illuminating how their efforts to build better lives are challenged by religious, caste, and economic tensions.… (more)

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