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Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death,…

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

by Katherine Boo

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1,8981853,614 (4.12)1 / 325
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
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 (189)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (191)
Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)
The perfect literary cure for any case of pre-holiday gimmes. There are shelves upon shelves of books about the chronically exploited and destitute out there, but very, very few are as well done as this one. Recommend. ( )
  dele2451 | Oct 1, 2014 |
In Annawandi, a congested, polluted slum of India's largest city, Mumbai, 17 year old Abdul sorts through garbage for recyclable materials to resell. His meager earnings are enough to at least protect his family from the homeless poverty of many who live around them. This book of narrative non-fiction is brilliantly written and shatters any illusions we may have about opportunity, justice, and moral decency. ( )
  jconnell | Sep 13, 2014 |
Painful but interesting reading. I appreciated it having been to India and seen the slums.
Ending was a bit predictable. ( )
  padmacatell | Sep 8, 2014 |
An incredibly engaging and challenging book. Worth reading multiple times. The true story of life in a Mumbai slum will remind you of your blessings and challenge you to think about human behavior. ( )
  PleasantHome | Sep 7, 2014 |
The book starts with Abdul, a teenage boy who lives with his family in a small hut in Annawadi, a slum full of such huts across the road from some luxury hotels and an airport. The land will eventually be cleared and developed, as part of an effort to remove all such slums from Mumbai. The slum side of this road is obscured by a fence, on which an ad for ceramic tiles repeats “Beautiful Forever” over and over. Conditions in the slum are beyond desperate.
Abdul is hiding from the police, who are looking to arrest him and others in his family for burning a woman who lives in the hut adjacent to theirs.
Then the book backs up several months to explain how Abdul and his family arrived at this point. It tells the stories of a few families living in Annawadi. In this way we get a detailed portrayal of present day Mumbai, with all of its poverty, some new wealth, and disfunction. But, we especially learn about the people living in Annawadi, and how they try their best to survive and improve their conditions.
The author is invisible in the writing. There are no interviews or reporting details. (The book's methodology is explained in an Author's Note at the end.) So, the book reads more like a narrative novel than a usual piece of investigative journalism. It is wonderfully constructed, engaging and fascinating. ( )
  BillPilgrim | Aug 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 189 (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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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.
“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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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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