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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

by Katherine Boo

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,1302512,632 (4.07)1 / 427
Recently added byprivate library, Seddoug, Dreatude_07, emfdvm, almin, Katie_Roscher, Jambyfool, OSDUCB, SWade0126
  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 Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad (Sandydog1)
    Sandydog1: Same type of "family" memoir written in literary style.
  7. 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.
  8. 00
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (TomWaitsTables)
  9. 00
    The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India by Siddhartha Deb (TomWaitsTables)
  10. 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 (257)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (259)
Showing 1-5 of 257 (next | show all)
Really good but so so depressing. I was not in the headspace to read this book. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
A tragically fascinating read, as long as you read it in the context of nonfiction. Were I the editor, the second half of the Author's Note should have been a Forward to start the entire novel. This would safeguard against readers like myself, who in a sleep-deprived state, started this book without fully appreciating that these people are REAL and authentically documented. Appreciating that approach, the impact of everyday events to the poor in India are at best bittersweet and at worst traumatic. Beautiful literary analogies present an interwoven insightful theme, lending credence to the intelligence of all peoples and not simply the educated or elite. It is time to consider such a good book that raises important social questions. ( )
  Meghanista | Dec 19, 2018 |
Very intense book. The fact that it reads like a novel keeps the horror at bay, for a while. The reality of it all iss at times incomprehensible! ( )
  jslantz1948 | Sep 15, 2018 |
Very intense book. The fact that it reads like a novel keeps the horror at bay, for a while. The reality of it all iss at times incomprehensible! ( )
  jslantz1948 | Sep 15, 2018 |
Succeeds in telling a powerfully specific narrative of a particular Mumbai slum and highlighting the general corruption, ingenuity, and morality arising in the face of rapid globalization. ( )
  albertgoldfain | Jul 28, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 257 (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.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Katherine Booprimary authorall editionscalculated
Malhotra, SunilReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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