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

by Katherine Boo

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,4112212,575 (4.08)1 / 370
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

  1. 40
    A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (fountainoverflows)
    fountainoverflows: A classic story, also set in Mumbai/Bombay, but covering some very similar territory.
  2. 40
    Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (TomWaitsTables)
  3. 20
    Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Another journalistic-novelistic account of lives in Bombay, but more wide ranging across classes and by a native.
  4. 10
    Libertad by Alma Fullerton (fountainoverflows)
    fountainoverflows: Although a children's title, this book follows the story of two boys whose lives revolve around salvaging cardboard and other waste in a Guatemalan dump. When their mother is buried in the refuse, they make a trek north to find their father, supposedly in the Southern U.S. border states. Their lives have a considerable amount in common with the Husain family's.… (more)
  5. 00
    Planet of Slums by Mike Davis (Nickelini)
  6. 00
    The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds One $25 Kiva Loan at a Time by Bob Harris (srdr)
    srdr: Engaging stories of how microfinance loans via the internet can change the lives of the working poor worldwide.
  7. 00
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (TomWaitsTables)
  8. 00
    The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India by Siddhartha Deb (TomWaitsTables)
  9. 00
    Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Both authors have spent a long time with a community of the very poor and have produced sympathetic and very insightful books about how the "underclass" see, and manage their interactions with, the rest of society.
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English (226)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (228)
Showing 1-5 of 226 (next | show all)
At about page 70 or so, I almost gave up on this book. In fact I went as far to start a blog in regards to not being able to finish it. BUT, I decided to give it another try and see what all the good reviews are about.

For me, it's an eye opener to what really goes on in other countries. I can't imagine rummaging trash to sell recyclables, and especially young children.

Some of the people you have strong feelings for in the book and you hope that their outcome is what you would expect or what should be, but alas that isn't always accurate.

At times this book was a tad boring for me, and others it was confusing keeping the families children and friends connected.

But all in all it gives me a perspective, one of which I hadn't thought too much about.
( )
  gma2lana | May 9, 2016 |
I've read many books about India and visited there couple of times but this is most straight forward book about Ndia i've read. It feels amazing that the book is from real life. It's most certainly not a feel-good-book but it does describe the reality of extreme powerty and competiton these slum dwellers experience right from the birth. First part of the book gives background about the people and describes the living in slum. This part is pretty optimistic and tells about the dreams and aspirhations of these people. Then it takes a turn to the darker side but i still liked the books vert much. ( )
  zeppanen | Apr 28, 2016 |
This was a familiar type of story about India, but I naively had thought that this kind of story had mostly disappeared, that modernisation of India had also done away with most of this very dire poverty and resulting brutalities. Corruption, poverty, ambition and self-preservation are intimately entwined and mutually dependent, and exist on a much grander scale than I ever imagined, even when at my most cynical. The story focuses on a few families in a large squalid slum beside Mumbai Airport. The slogan of a flooring company, "Beautiful forever", is plastered repetitively along the wall along the airport road, hiding the slums from the travelers. Tragedy and injustice heap upon one another in rapid succession. The problem isn't the slum -- it is the systemic governmental/business/societal corruption permeating all areas of life. These poverty stricken zones are magnifying glasses of the resulting effects. The despair is not relentless though. It is partially countered by victories, and by numerous examples of stubborn resilience.
( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
A powerful account of life in a Mumbai slum. It has the grip and tension of a fiction narrative. It's strength is the way it treats almost all the characters with understanding and humanity and does not drown the reader in total misery but allows room for hope. ( )
  stephengoldenberg | Apr 6, 2016 |
This was a fascinating look behind the Indian government's false claims of universal social improvement and democratic governance. India is, in fact, corrupt in ways I'd never imagined possible, and that corruption permeates every single aspect of daily life, from birth to death. This is a book I think that everyone should read. And I'm not just saying that as a nerdfighter; I'm saying that as an American. ( )
  EmilyRokicki | Feb 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 226 (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
First words
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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