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

by Katherine Boo

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,1062003,127 (4.11)1 / 350
Member:peju.peju
Title:Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum
Authors:Katherine Boo
Info:Portobello Books Ltd (2012), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:nonfiction

Work details

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

  1. 30
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    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 (205)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (207)
Showing 1-5 of 205 (next | show all)
Non-fiction life in an area of poverty told dispassionately, but not without empathy. I can understand why this book is so controversial. So many social systems are subverted because of the poverty. It helps to get the reader to understand the author's position that problems of poverty are pragmatic problems that can be solved. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
I really liked the writing style of the author. She is somewhat disconnected emotionally from everything that happens and it makes me feel more centered when I'm reading this book.

The only problem I experienced was that the first 3-4 chapters each focussed on a different, completely new character. So I just couldn't get myself engrossed into the story. I guess this is more to do with me than the book. Maybe someday I might pick it up again to read but for the time being I'm done with this book. ( )
  MugenHere | Jul 12, 2015 |
How India's cripplingly poor people live.

I hadn't realised, when I first started reading, that this was a non-fiction book, and I'm so glad that someone pointed this out to me. Knowing that it was true and all the crazy characters were not just a figment of the author's imagination, made it a much more powerful read.

It is a fascinating insight into the way people live in the ramshackle settlement area of Annawadi, that I have only ever seen from a plane. We are told that roughly ninety thousand people live there. The day to day lives of this population of displaced people are heartbreaking in their struggle. Refuse collection is a significant source of income, whether legally or illegally obtained. But even this is not easy, as collectors are chased away from the sources of this 'rubbish'.
It's a cut-throat world and only the strongest survive. When Abdul, a teenage refuse dealer is accused of killing the family's tenant, justice is impossible without money changing hands, and lies are believed as readily as the truth.
"Abdul now understood. Innocence and guilt could be bought and sold like a kilo of polyurethane bags."

Just as the residents think that the new money coming into Mumbai might improve their lives too, the recession hits, and as jobs become even more scarce, so too does their income.
"Poor people didn't unite; they competed ferociously amongst themselves for grains as slender as they were provisional."

Suicide was shockingly prevalent, although that was hardly surprising under the circumstances, but there were also many who just kept picking themselves up and starting over. It is quite amazing what drive keeps them going.

The author became involved with these people over a period of four years, from 2007 to 2011, after her marriage to an Indian citizen. With the help of several translators and a lot of determination, she was able to come to an understanding of the way the Annawadians live, work and think. The result is an eye-opening read.
Recommended. ( )
  DubaiReader | Jun 27, 2015 |
Amazing book! ( )
  rebeccar76 | 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 |
Showing 1-5 of 205 (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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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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