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Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death,…

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

by Katherine Boo

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,8122402,071 (4.07)1 / 417
  1. 60
    A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (fountainoverflows)
    fountainoverflows: A classic story, also set in Mumbai/Bombay, but covering some very similar territory.
  2. 50
    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 (246)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All (248)
Showing 1-5 of 246 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  Abbey_Harlow | Oct 5, 2017 |
Impressive research into one specific slum community. Interesting to get a glimpse of a life so foreign from my own experiences; yet intriguing to put pieces together to see the similarities of people and their reactions to hardship. ( )
  lissabeth21 | Oct 3, 2017 |
I'm still thinking about this book.

So much poverty. So much corruption. So much sadness. I am so glad I read this book. I am glad I live in America, and I feel a little guilty for the easy life I lead. I hadn't stopped to consider that so much of your start in life depends on your birthplace. The people chronicled in this book started out on the wrong side of luck and never found their way out. It's hard to believe that so many people live like this in Mumbai. A powerful story. ( )
  GovMarley | Aug 6, 2017 |
Life, Death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
In this brilliant, breathtaking book by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport. As India starts to prosper, the residents of Annawadi are electric with hope. Abdul, an enterprising teenager, sees ??a fortune beyond countingƒ? in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Meanwhile Asha, a woman of formidable ambition, has identified a shadier route to the middle class. With a little luck, her beautiful daughter, Annawadiƒ??s ƒ??most-everything girl,ƒ? might become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest children, like the young thief Kalu, feel themselves inching closer to their dreams. But then Abdul is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power, and economic envy turn brutal. With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects people to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, based on years of uncompromising reporting, carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first centuryƒ??s hidden worldsƒ??and into the hearts of families impossible to forget.
n Winner of the National Book Award | The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award | The Los Angeles Times Book Prize | The American Academy of Arts and Letters Award | The New York Public Libraryƒ??s Helen Bernstein Book Awardn
The New York Times ƒ?› The Washington Post ƒ?› O: The Oprah Magazine ƒ?› USA Today ƒ?› New York ƒ?› The Miami Herald ƒ?› San Francisco Chronicle ƒ?› Newsday
The New Yorker ƒ?› People ƒ?› Entertainment Weekly ƒ?› The Wall Street Journal ƒ?›?ÿThe Boston Globe ƒ?› The Economist ƒ?› Financial Times ƒ?› Newsweek/The Daily Beast ƒ?› Foreign Policy ƒ?› The Seattle Times ƒ?› The Nation ƒ?› St. Louis Post-Dispatch ƒ?› The Denver Post ƒ?› Minneapolis Star Tribune ƒ?› Salon ƒ?› The Plain Dealer ƒ?› The Week ƒ?› Kansas City Star ƒ?›?ÿSlate?ÿƒ?›?ÿTime Out New York ƒ?›?ÿPublishers Weekly
n ?ÿn
ƒ??A book of extraordinary intelligence [and] humanity . . . beyond groundbreaking.ƒ?ƒ??Junot D??az, The New York Times Book Review
ƒ??Reported like Watergate, written like Great Expectations, and handily the best international nonfiction in years.ƒ?ƒ??New York

ƒ??This book is both a tour de force of social justice reportage and a literary masterpiece.ƒ?ƒ??Judgesƒ?? Citation for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award
ƒ??[A] landmark book.ƒ?ƒ??The Wall Street Journal
n ?ÿn
ƒ??A triumph of a book.ƒ?ƒ??Amartya Sen
ƒ??There are books that change the way you feel and see; this is one of them.ƒ?ƒ??Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
ƒ??[A] stunning piece of narrative nonfiction . . . [Katherine] Booƒ??s prose is electric.ƒ?n ƒ??O: The Oprah Magazinen
ƒ??Inspiring, and irresistible . . . Booƒ??s extraordinary achievement is twofold. She shows us how people in the most desperate circumstances can find the resilience to hang on to their humanity. Just as important, she makes us care.ƒ?n ƒ??Peoplen

From the Hardcover edition. ( )
  cdiemert | Jul 30, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 246 (next | show all)
Next I devoured Boo’s book, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” which extended her probing and compassionate portrayal of poverty to India. Before becoming a journalist, I had spent nearly two years working with grass-roots groups in Mumbai slums just like Annawadi, the one she spent three years chronicling for the book. I’d been so upset by journalistic portrayals of these neighborhoods that I wrote an entire master’s thesis about the subject. Now, finally, here was an account that took slum residents seriously as protagonists in their own lives, without dismissing the inequality and corruption that stymied them.
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 editionscalculated
Malhotra, SunilReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
“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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