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

by Katherine Boo

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,8041813,882 (4.12)1 / 323
Member:JennyG
Title:Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
Authors:Katherine Boo
Info:Random House (2012), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Read: 2012

Work details

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

  1. 30
    A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (fountainoverflows)
    fountainoverflows: A classic story, also set in Mumbai/Bombay, but covering some very similar territory.
  2. 30
    Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (one-horse.library)
  3. 10
    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
    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.
  6. 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.
  7. 00
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (one-horse.library)
  8. 00
    The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India by Siddhartha Deb (one-horse.library)
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English (185)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (187)
Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
The author spent four years following the lives of people who live in a Mumbai slum. She tells their stories, in their own words, providing us with a window to a world so far removed from the kind of life I lead.

This book, while nonfiction, reminded me of Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance: dismal, with a few, short-lived glimmers of hope.

The book made me think about not judging things through my Canadian eyes. It also made me feel powerless to bring about real change in places such as Annawadi in the short to medium term. ( )
  LynnB | Jul 31, 2014 |
I liked this much better than I thought I would, and am pleased it was chosen for book club. It was nothing I ever would have chosen to read myself, and I learned a lot. If half stars were possible, I would take one half off for the title, which I considered stupid. ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
I liked this much better than I thought I would, and am pleased it was chosen for book club. It was nothing I ever would have chosen to read myself, and I learned a lot. If half stars were possible, I would take one half off for the title, which I considered stupid. ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
very interesting and difficult and worthwhile... ( )
  Julia.Reeb | Jul 23, 2014 |
Katherine Boo's "Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity" is a beautifully written and engrossing account of several families who live in the Annawadi slum. It is not just the overwhelming poverty that's disheartening, but also the level of corruption, which is expected by all who want to get ahead, and the slow erosion of hopes and character qualities.

The book really reads like a novel -- I was extremely glad for the afterward where Boo explains how she spent four years immersed in the slums to collect material for the book. I frankly wish it was a forward because I frequently found myself questioning how a white American woman was able to know so much about the inner thoughts and dreams of the families she was following.

This was Boo's first book. I would absolutely pick up any other book she writes in the future just based on the quality of this one. ( )
  amerynth | Jun 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 185 (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.
 
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Epigraph
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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