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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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2,1452033,044 (4.11)1 / 350
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

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

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English (208)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (210)
Showing 1-5 of 208 (next | show all)
@behind_beautiful +john_green ( )
  Lorem | Oct 2, 2015 |
Another powerful book. Hard to believe these people live on the same planet I do. The corruption, greed, etc. Just awful. Cannot imagine the life. And how unfulfilled it must be. We have it way too good. The book really gives an intimate portrait of how way too many people live and survive. ( )
  bermandog | Aug 14, 2015 |
Behind the Beautiful Forevers tells the stories of residents of Annawadi, a slum just outside the Mumbai international airport and in close proximity of a number of luxury hotels. Outside the airport is a billboard advertising Italian floor tiles with the tagline, "beautiful forever, beautiful forever, beautiful forever." Just beyond this billboard lies the Annawadi slum, where residents fight for survival in a corrupt political and economic climate, many making their livings through trash collection, prostitution, and manipulation of the corrupt system.

I'm not sure I would include the word "hope" in the title of this book. The book paints a very bleak picture of life in the slums of India, and I felt sad and hopeless when I finished reading it. Organizations supposedly working to alleviate poverty and provide opportunities for the poor are often just as corrupt as the political systems that are causing the poverty. They work towards their missions only when they are being monitored, otherwise funneling money and resources elsewhere.

I think the author painted a very honest picture of life in Annawadi. She researched for years, conducted hundreds of interview and did a lot of fact-checking. She did not romanticize the residents of the slum. They act both selflessly to support their families, and also selfishly, doing whatever it takes to get ahead. I appreciate this honest depiction.

This book addresses important issues, is well written, and well researched. I think it is better than three stars, but due to my recent inability to concentrate on anything for more than fifteen minutes, I had a hard time really getting into it.
( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 208 (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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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
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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