Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale
Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale__below
Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale_top
Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale__left

Description

Product Description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NAMED ONE OF TIME’S TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE

“Inspiring . . . extraordinary . . . [Katherine Boo] 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.”—People


A tour de force of social justice reportage and a literary masterpiece.”—Judges, PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award 

ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY  The New York Times • The Washington Post • O: The Oprah Magazine • USA Today • New York • The Miami Herald • San Francisco Chronicle • Newsday

In this 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 counting” 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, Annawadi’s “most-everything girl,” 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 century’s hidden worlds—and into the hearts of families impossible to forget. 

WINNER OF: The PEN Nonfiction Award • The Los Angeles Times Book Prize • The American Academy of Arts and Letters Award • The New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New Yorker • People • Entertainment Weekly • The Wall Street Journal • The Boston Globe • The Economist • Financial Times • Foreign Policy • The Seattle Times • The Nation • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Denver Post • Minneapolis Star Tribune • The Week • Kansas City Star • Slate •  Publishers Weekly

Review

“This book is both a tour de force of social justice reportage and a literary masterpiece.” —Judges’ Citation for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award

“A book of extraordinary intelligence [and] humanity . . . beyond groundbreaking.” —Junot Díaz, The New York Times Book Review

“Reported like Watergate, written like Great Expectations, and handily the best international nonfiction in years.” New York

“Incandescent writing and excruciatingly good storytelling.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“Outstanding.” —USA Today
 
“A richly detailed tapestry of tragedy and triumph told by a seemingly omniscient narrator with an attention to detail that reads like fiction while in possession of the urgent humanity of nonfiction.” —Los Angeles Times
 
“Rends the heart, thrills the mind, pricks the conscience, and burns the pages.” Washingtonian

“[An] exquisitely accomplished first book. Novelists dream of defining characters this swiftly and beautifully, but Ms. Boo is not a novelist. She is one of those rare, deep-digging journalists who can make truth surpass fiction, a documentarian with a superb sense of human drama. She makes it very easy to forget that this book is the work of a reporter. . . . Comparison to Dickens is not unwarranted.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
 
“A jaw-dropping achievement, an instant classic of narrative nonfiction . . . With a cinematic intensity . . . Boo transcends and subverts every cliché, cynical or earnest, that we harbor about Indian destitution and gazes directly into the hearts, hopes, and human promise of vibrant people whom you’ll not soon forget.” Elle

“Riveting, fearlessly reported . . . [ Behind the Beautiful Forevers] plays out like a swift, richly plotted novel. That’s partly because Boo writes so damn well. But it’s also because over the course of three years in India she got extraordinary access to the lives and minds of the Annawadi slum, a settlement nestled jarringly close to a shiny international airport and a row of luxury hotels. Grade: A.” Entertainment Weekly

“A shocking—and riveting—portrait of life in modern India . . . This is one stunning piece of narrative nonfiction. . . . Boo’s prose is electric.” O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“[A] landmark book.” The Wall Street Journal
 
“Moving . . . a humane, powerful and insightful book . . . a book of nonfiction so stellar it puts most novels to shame.” The Boston Globe

“A mind-blowing read.” Redbook
 
“An unforgettable true story, meticulously researched with unblinking honesty . . . pure, astonishing reportage with as unbiased a lens as possible.” The Christian Science Monitor
 
“The most riveting Indian story since Slumdog Millionaire—except hers is true.” Marie Claire

“Seamless and intimate . . . a scrupulously true story . . . It’s tempting to compare [ Behind the Beautiful Forevers] to a novel, but . . . that would hardly do it justice.” Salon
 
“Extraordinary . . . moving . . . Like the best journeys, Boo’s book cracks open our preconceptions and constructs an abiding bridge—at once daunting and inspiring—to a world we would never otherwise recognize as our own.” National Geographic Traveler
 
Behind the Beautiful Forevers offers a rebuke to official reports and dry statistics on the global poor. . . . Boo is one of few chroniclers providing this picture. She’s a moral force and . . . an artist of reverberating power.” The American Prospect

“Kate Boo’s reporting is a form of kinship. Abdul and Manju and Kalu of Annawadi will not be forgotten. She leads us through their unknown world, her gift of language rising up like a delicate string of necessary lights. There are books that change the way you feel and see; this is one of them. If we receive the fiery spirit from which it was written, it ought to change much more than that.” —Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of Random Family

“I couldn’t put  Behind the Beautiful Forevers down even when I wanted to—when the misery, abuse and filth that Boo so elegantly and understatedly describes became almost overwhelming. Her book, situated in a slum on the edge of Mumbai’s international airport, is one of the most powerful indictments of economic inequality I’ve ever read. If Bollywood ever decides to do its own version of  The Wire, this would be it.” —Barbara Ehrenreich, author of  Nickel and Dimed

“A beautiful account, told through real-life stories, of the sorrows and joys, the anxieties and stamina, in the lives of the precarious and powerless in urban India whom a booming country has failed to absorb and integrate. A brilliant book that simultaneously informs, agitates, angers, inspires, and instigates.” —Amartya Sen, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics

“Without question the best book yet written on contemporary India. Also, the best work of narrative nonfiction I’ve read in twenty-five years.” —Ramachandra Guha, author of  India After Gandhi

“There is a lot to like about this book: the prodigious research that it is built on, distilled so expertly that we hardly notice how much we are being taught; the graceful and vivid prose that never calls attention to itself; and above all, the true and moving renderings of the people of the Mumbai slum called Annawadi. Garbage pickers and petty thieves, victims of gruesome injustice—Ms. Boo draws us into their lives, and they do not let us go. This is a superb book.” —Tracy Kidder, author of Mountains Beyond Mountains and Strength in What Remains

"It might surprise you how completely enjoyable this book is, as rich and beautifully written as a novel. In the hierarchy of long form reporting, Katherine Boo is right up there.” —David Sedaris

About the Author

Katherine Boo is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a former reporter and editor for The Washington Post. Her reporting has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur “Genius” grant, and a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing. For the last decade, she has divided her time between the United States and India. This is her first book.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1.

Annawadi

LET IT KEEP, the moment when Officer Fish Lips met Abdul in the police station. Rewind, see Abdul running backward, away from the station and the airport, shirt buttons opening as he flies back toward his home. See the flames engulfing a disabled woman in a pink- flowered tunic shrink to nothing but a matchbook on the floor. See Fatima minutes earlier, dancing on crutches to a raucous love song, her delicate features unscathed. Keep rewinding, back seven more months, and stop at an ordinary day in January 2008. It was about as hopeful a season as there had ever been in the years since a bitty slum popped up in the biggest city of a country that holds one-third of the planet''s poor. A country dizzy now with development and circulating money.

Dawn came gusty, as it often did in January, the month of treed kites and head colds. Because his family lacked the floor space for all of its members to lie down, Abdul was asleep on the gritty maidan, which for years had passed as his bed. His mother stepped carefully over one of his younger brothers, and then another, bending low to Abdul''s ear. "Wake up, fool!" she said exuberantly. "You think your work is dreaming?"

Superstitious, Zehrunisa had noticed that some of the family''s most profitable days occurred after she had showered abuses on her eldest son. January''s income being pivotal to the family''s latest plan of escape from Annawadi, she had decided to make the curses routine.

Abdul rose with minimal whining, since the only whining his mother tolerated was her own. Besides, this was the gentle-going hour in which he hated Annawadi least. The pale sun lent the sewage lake a sparkling silver cast, and the parrots nesting at the far side of the lake could still be heard over the jets. Outside his neighbors'' huts, some held together by duct tape and rope, damp rags were discreetly freshening bodies. Children in school-uniform neckties were hauling pots of water from the public taps. A languid line extended from an orange concrete block of public toilets. Even goats'' eyes were heavy with sleep. It was the moment of the intimate and the familial, before the great pursuit of the small market niche got under way.

One by one, construction workers departed for a crowded intersection where site supervisors chose day laborers. Young girls began threading marigolds into garlands, to be hawked in Airport Road traffic. Older women sewed patches onto pink-and-blue cotton quilts for a company that paid by the piece. In a tiny, sweltering plastic- molding factory, bare-chested men cranked gears that would turn colored beads into ornaments to be hung from rearview mirrors-smiling ducks and pink cats with jewels around their necks that they couldn''t imagine anyone, anywhere, buying. And Abdul crouched on the maidan, beginning to sort two weeks'' worth of purchased trash, a stained shirt hitching up his knobby spine.

His general approach toward his neighbors was this: "The better I know you, the more I will dislike you, and the more you will dislike me. So let us keep to ourselves." But deep in his own work, as he would be this morning, he could imagine his fellow Annawadians laboring companionably alongside him.

ANNAWADI SAT TWO hundred yards off the Sahar Airport Road, a stretch where new India collided with old India and made new India late. Chauffeurs in SUVs honked furiously at the bicycle delivery boys peeling off from a slum chicken shop, each carrying a rack of three hundred eggs. Annawadi itself was nothing special, in the context of the slums of Mumbai. Every house was off-kilter, so less off-kilter looked like straight. Sewage and sickness looked like life.

The slum had been settled in 1991 by a band of laborers trucked in from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to repair a runway at the international airport. When the runway work was complete, they decided to stay near the airport and its tantalizing construction possibilities. In an area with little unclaimed space, a sodden, snake-filled bit of brushland across the street from the international terminal seemed the least-bad place to live.

Other poor people considered the spot too wet to be habitable, but the Tamils set to work, hacking down the brush that harbored the snakes, digging up dirt in drier places and packing it into the mud. After a month, their bamboo poles stopped flopping over when they were stuck in the ground. Draping empty cement sacks over the poles for cover, they had a settlement. Residents of neighboring slums provided its name: Annawadi-the land of annas, a respectful Tamil word for older brothers. Less respectful terms for Tamil migrants were in wider currency. But other poor citizens had seen the Tamils sweat to summon solid land from a bog, and that labor had earned a certain deference.

Seventeen years later, almost no one in this slum was considered poor by official Indian benchmarks. Rather, the Annawadians were among roughly one hundred million Indians freed from poverty since 1991, when, around the same moment as the small slum''s founding, the central government embraced economic liberalization. The Annawadians were thus part of one of the most stirring success narratives in the modern history of global market capitalism, a narrative still unfolding.

True, only six of the slum''s three thousand residents had permanent jobs. (The rest, like 85 percent of Indian workers, were part of the informal, unorganized economy.) True, a few residents trapped rats and frogs and fried them for dinner. A few ate the scrub grass at the sewage lake''s edge. And these individuals, miserable souls, thereby made an inestimable contribution to their neighbors. They gave those slumdwellers who didn''t fry rats and eat weeds, like Abdul, a felt sense of their upward mobility.

The airport district was spewing waste that winter, the peak season for tourism, business travel, and society weddings, whose lack of restraint in 2008 reflected a stock market at an all-time high. Better still for Abdul, a frenzy of Chinese construction in advance of the summer''s Beijing Olympics had inflated the price of scrap metal worldwide. It was a fine time to be a Mumbai garbage-trader, not that that was the term passersby used for Abdul. Some called him garbage, and left it at that.

This morning, culling screws and hobnails from his pile, he tried to keep an eye on Annawadi''s goats, who liked the smell of the dregs in his bottles and the taste of the paste beneath the labels. Abdul didn''t ordinarily mind them nosing around, but these days they were fonts of liquid shit-a menace.

The goats belonged to a Muslim man who ran a brothel from his hut and considered his whores a pack of malingerers. In an attempt to diversify, he had been raising the animals to sell for sacrifice at Eid, the festival marking the end of Ramadan. The goats had proved as troublesome as the girls, though. Twelve of the herd of twenty-two had died, and the survivors were in intestinal distress. The brothelkeeper blamed black magic on the part of the Tamils who ran the local liquor still. Others suspected the goats'' drinking source, the sewage lake.

Late at night, the contractors modernizing the airport dumped things in the lake. Annawadians also dumped things there: most recently, the decomposing carcasses of twelve goats. Whatever was in that soup, the pigs and dogs that slept in its shallows emerged with bellies stained blue. Some creatures survived the lake, though, and not only the malarial mosquitoes. As the morning went on, a fisherman waded through the water, one hand pushing aside cigarette packs and blue plastic bags, the other dimpling the surface with a net. He would take his catch to the Marol market to be ground into fish oil, a health product for which demand had surged now that it was valued in the West.

Rising to shake out a cramp in his calf, Abdul was surprised to find the sky as brown as flywings, the sun signaling through the haze of pollution the arrival of afternoon. When sorting, he routinely lost track of the hour. His little sisters were playing with the One Leg''s daughters on a makeshift wheelchair, a cracked plastic lawn chair flanked by rusted bicycle wheels. Mirchi, already home from ninth grade, was sprawled in the doorway of the family hut, an unread math book on his lap.

Mirchi was impatiently awaiting his best friend, Rahul, a Hindu boy who lived a few huts away, and who had become an Annawadi celebrity. This month, Rahul had done what Mirchi dreamed of: broken the barrier between the slum world and the rich world.

Rahul''s mother, Asha, a kindergarten teacher with mysterious connections to local politicians and the police, had managed to secure him several nights of temp work at the Intercontinental Hotel, across the sewage lake. Rahul-a pie-faced, snaggle-toothed ninth grader-had seen the overcity opulence firsthand.

And here he came, wearing an ensemble purchased from the profits of this stroke of fortune: cargo shorts that rode low on his hips, a shiny oval belt buckle of promising recyclable weight, a black knit cap pulled down to his eyes. "Hip-hop style," Rahul termed it. The previous day had been the sixtieth anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, a national holiday on which elite Indians once considered it poor taste to throw an extravagant party. But Rahul had worked a manic event at the Intercontinental, and knew Mirchi would appreciate the details.

"Mirchi, I cannot lie to you," Rahul said, grinning. "On my side of the hall there were five hundred women in only half-clothes-like they forgot to put on the bottom half before they left the house!"

"Aaagh, where was I?" said Mirchi. "Tell me. Anyone famous?"

"Everyone famous! A Bollywood party. Some of the stars were in the VIP area, behind a rope, but John Abraham came out to near where I was. He had this thick black coat, and he was smoking cigarettes right in front of me. And Bipasha Basu was supposedly there, but I couldn''t be sure it was really her or just some other item girl, because if the manager sees you looking at the guests, he''ll fire you, take your whole pay-they told us that twenty times before the party started, like we were weak in the head. You have to focus on the tables and the rug. Then when you see a dirty plate or a napkin you have to snatch it and take it to the trash bin in the back. Oh, that room was looking nice. First we laid this thick white carpet-you stood on it and sank right down. Then they lit white candles and made it dark like a disco, and on this one table the chef put two huge dolphins made out of flavored ice. One dolphin had cherries for eyes-"

"Bastard, forget the fish, tell me about the girls," Mirchi protested. "They want you to look when they dress like that."

"Seriously, you can''t look. Not even at the rich people''s toilets. Security will chuck you out. The toilets for the workers were nice, though. You have a choice between Indian- or American-style." Rahul, who had a patriotic streak, had peed in the Indian one, an open drain in the floor.

Other boys joined Rahul outside the Husains'' hut. Annawadians liked to talk about the hotels and the depraved things that likely went on inside. One drug-addled scavenger talked to the hotels: "I know you''re trying to kill me, you sisterfucking Hyatt!" But Rahul''s accounts had special value, since he didn''t lie, or at least not more than one sentence out of twenty. This, along with a cheerful disposition, made him a boy whose privileges other boys did not resent.

Rahul gamely conceded he was a nothing compared with the Intercontinental''s regular workers. Many of the waiters were college-

educated, tall, and light-skinned, with cellphones so shiny their owners could fix their hair in the reflections. Some of the waiters had mocked Rahul''s long, blue-painted thumbnail, which was high masculine style at Annawadi. When he cut the nail off, they''d teased him about how he talked. The Annawadians'' deferential term for a rich man, sa''ab, was not the proper term in the city''s moneyed quarters, he reported to his friends. "The waiters say it makes you sound D- class-like a thug, a tapori," he said. "The right word is sir."

"Sirrrrrrr," someone said, rolling the r''s, then everyone started saying it, laughing.

The boys stood close together, though there was plenty of space in the maidan. For people who slept in close quarters, his foot in my mouth, my foot in hers, the feel of skin against skin got to be a habit. Abdul stepped around them, upending an armful of torn paper luggage tags on the maidan and scrambling after the tags that blew away. The other boys paid him no notice. Abdul didn''t talk much, and when he did, it was as if he''d spent weeks privately working over some little idea. He might have had a friend or two if he''d known how to tell a good story.

Once, working on this shortcoming, he''d floated a tale about having been inside the Intercontinental himself-how a Bollywood movie called Welcome had been filming there, and how he''d seen Katrina Kaif dressed all in white. It had been a feeble fiction. Rahul had seen through it immediately. But Rahul''s latest report would allow Abdul''s future lies to be better informed.

A Nepali boy asked Rahul about the women in the hotels. Through slats in the hotel fences, he had seen some of them smoking-"not one cigarette, but many"-while they waited for their drivers to pull up to the entrance. "Which village do they come from, these women?"

"Listen, idiot," Rahul said affectionately. "The white people come from all different countries. You''re a real hick if you don''t know this basic thing."

"Which countries? America?"

Rahul couldn''t say. "But there are so many Indian guests in the hotels, too, I guarantee you." Indians who were "healthy-sized"-big and fat, as opposed to stunted, like the Nepali boy and many other children here.

Rahul''s first job had been the Intercontinental''s New Year''s Eve party. The New Year''s bashes at Mumbai''s luxury hotels were renowned, and scavengers had often returned to Annawadi bearing discarded brochures. Celebrate 2008 in high style at Le Royal Meridien Hotel! Take a stroll down the streets of Paris splurging with art, music & food. Get scintillated with live performances. Book your boarding passes and Bon Voyage! 12,000 rupees per couple, with champagne. The advertisements were printed on glossy paper, for which recyclers paid two rupees, or four U.S. cents, per kilo.

Rahul had been underwhelmed by the New Year''s rituals of the rich. "Moronic," he had concluded. "Just people drinking and dancing and standing around acting stupid, like people here do every night."

"The hotel people get strange when they drink," he told his friends. "Last night at the end of the party, there was one hero-

good-looking, stripes on his suit, expensive cloth. He was drunk, full tight, and he started stuffing bread into his pants pockets, jacket pockets. Then he put more rolls straight into his pants! Rolls fell on the floor and he was crawling under the table to get them. This one waiter was saying the guy must have been hungry, earlier- that whiskey brought back the memory. But when I get rich enough to be a guest at a big hotel, I''m not going to act like such a loser."

Product information

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Videos

Help others learn more about this product by uploading a video!
Upload video
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Customers who bought this item also bought

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 54.3 out of 5
3,420 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

BTST
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Should be: Life, death, and HOPELESSNESS in a Mumbai undercity
Reviewed in the United States on October 22, 2019
This book was not for me. I expected there to be some "hope" in the book (after all, the title is "behind the beautiful forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity), but there was absolutely none. It was written well, but for me, the stories about living in... See more
This book was not for me. I expected there to be some "hope" in the book (after all, the title is "behind the beautiful forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity), but there was absolutely none. It was written well, but for me, the stories about living in poverty beyond belief and corruption beyond belief- with no hope of it ever getting better- was not worth it. It was very depressing. There is no hope. The corruption was mind blowing. Corruption exists in every aspect of their society... medical care corruption, voting/political corruption, police corruption, education corruption, neighbor against neighbor corruption. Bribes, bribes, bribes. Everywhere. It even mentioned some charity aid which was in the hands of corruption. Unfortunately, it makes me not want to donate to any charities that serve India anymore, because how could you ever believe this would do any good whatsoever. I wonder what happened to these people since the book was written. Read only if you want to be depressed.
27 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Mark
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I''m an American and I''ve lived and worked in West ...
Reviewed in the United States on August 5, 2016
I''m an American and I''ve lived and worked in West Africa for over 5 years (3 of them as a Peace Corps volunteer). I''ve found that it''s incredibly challenging to peal away the cultural onion, especially in writing. It took me three years before I felt that I had a grasp on... See more
I''m an American and I''ve lived and worked in West Africa for over 5 years (3 of them as a Peace Corps volunteer). I''ve found that it''s incredibly challenging to peal away the cultural onion, especially in writing. It took me three years before I felt that I had a grasp on the rhythm and flow of the community I was living in, including the styles of communication (nonverbal communication, decoding indirectness), the practice of saving face, concepts of time, concepts of power, attitudes towards uncertainty, family life, the boundaries of friendship, decision-making when living in extreme poverty, etc. There is so much difference. You have to marinate in the difference to become aware of it, and then adopt the difference to understand it.

Katherine Boo is blessed with perception, awareness and understanding. I was blown away by her ability to capture the everyday judgements, intentions and attitudes of the residents of Annawadi and to provide an intimate looks into the oppression, corruption and abuse of poverty.
81 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Dr Ali Binazir
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An astonishing account of heartbreak, humanity and hope
Reviewed in the United States on May 12, 2014
This is an astonishing book which I finished in two sittings. It''s really three books in one: -- It reads like a novel, even a thriller, not a book of nonfiction. Katherine Boo drops you into the action from the very first... See more
This is an astonishing book which I finished in two sittings. It''s really three books in one:
-- It reads like a novel, even a thriller, not a book of nonfiction. Katherine Boo drops you into the action from the very first page: a diligent and principled boy escaping from the authorities for a crime he didn''t commit. She gets you inside the head of the 16-year old garbage collector, his fears, his motivations, his rat-infested pile of trash which is his only hiding place. From there, she radiates out into the entire slum of Annawadi, into the minds of few dozen other characters from the 3000 families huddled around a sewage lake next to the gleaming Mumbai Airport and its luxury hotels.
-- It''s an extraordinary feat of reporting. For the central event of the book, Boo does 168 interviews. Additionally, she digs up 3000 government documents (no mean feat in the Indian bureaucracy) and spends 4 years of being right there with these folks. As a result, you come to understand the interconnectedness of all the lives of these complex, talented, vibrant people: their ethnic, religious and caste strife; their dealings with systemic corruption wherever they go; and the wages of crushing poverty, how they adapt to it, how they hope to escape to a better life. The suffering is real and deep, yet somehow Katherine Boo conveys the heartbreak without being preachy or sentimental.
-- It''s also a call to action. You cannot read this book without having it soften your heart, expand your circle of compassion, understand the global consequences of everything we do, and have greater gratitude for all the privileges many of us take for granted.

The writing is also fluidly beautiful. This book is one of the best I''ve read in any genre. Read it to understand life a little better.
-- Ali Binazir, M.D., M.Phil., Happiness Engineer
106 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Solari
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The limits of human misery
Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2016
I live in Brazil, a country of great social inequality, but even so the misery and cruelty shown in Behind the Beautiful Forevers is impressive. This work, winner of the 2012’s National Book Award and written by Pulitzer winner Katherine Boo, is the result of three years... See more
I live in Brazil, a country of great social inequality, but even so the misery and cruelty shown in Behind the Beautiful Forevers is impressive. This work, winner of the 2012’s National Book Award and written by Pulitzer winner Katherine Boo, is the result of three years she spent in Annawadi, a slum in Mumbai, India.

The title is a reference to an outdoor of Italian luxury mosaics that faces the city’s modern international airport; and Annawadi is right behind, like a black humor joke. It is a place of hunger and constant disease. Where people sleep in the middle of trash and are bitten by rats during the night. Where the fight for survivor surfaces a greedy and cruel side in the neighbors, the police corruption and politics. A place where people supplement their meager diet with rats and frogs from a fetid lagoon. Annawadi shows the combination of the darkest side of globalization with the Indian cast system, defined in the book as “the most perfectly oppressive labor division system ever conceived”.

Most of the story revolves around a Muslim family in the place of Hindu majority. They are accused of being responsible for the suicide of a one-legged woman. She set fire to herself because the renovation of a shared wall made dust fall in her rice, and wanted to teach a lesson to the neighbors that went too far. The lawsuit against the father of the family and his son extends for years and becomes a nightmare, revealing an endemic corruption in each and every level of the official system. The Indian bureaucracy seems like a big machine to forget the poor.

“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.”

One day the Indian press does visit this place of poverty and injustice because of a death. Of a horse. A few days before, a garbage collector was ran over and died after pleading for help for hours in an active road. They took him out of there when he was already dead and the coroner determined – without an autopsy – that he died of tuberculosis, so that it wouldn’t smudge the region’s statistics.

The facts are amazing, and the execution of Behind the Beautiful Forevers too. The author used over a thousand hours of video, photographs and audio interviews to write the book. And Boo also has an incredible sensibility to find the right stories and the literary talent to transcribe them.

One of the best non-fiction books I have read. A deep immersion in an incredible theme, with incredible execution, multiple sources, long time of research. A must-read for journalists, those interested in modern India, or any human being.
27 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Amieux
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Suffering has Many Sides
Reviewed in the United States on April 2, 2019
Well, this is a disturbing, hauntingly disbelieving, peek into the underside of slum life in Mumbai, India. Definitely not for the faint of heart or those of a sensitive nature! The story follows the lives of three families living in deplorable conditions trying to exist... See more
Well, this is a disturbing, hauntingly disbelieving, peek into the underside of slum life in Mumbai, India. Definitely not for the faint of heart or those of a sensitive nature! The story follows the lives of three families living in deplorable conditions trying to exist in a slum community of thousands behind a wall in the shadows of luxury hotels and a nearby airport.
The families eke out a survival by picking up recyclables from the trash heaps. They scrounge, beg, borrow, and steal to survive in a corrupt community where bribes and payoffs are a part of life. It is an unimaginable, heartbreaking - true - story that is very well told with nearly unbearable description. The suffering caused me to put the book down several times just so I could process what I had read before moving forward.
Although very well written, I could not give this five stars because it is an investigative story with a journalistic, rather than a literary style.
If one does not finish this book asking ‘how’ and ‘why’, then the reader has no soul.
6 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Melissa
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Incredible Nonfiction
Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2020
I was half way through this book when I realized it was Nonfiction and all of the characters and events were real! Katherine Boo put in an amazing amount of research: so much that she could show the inner thoughts of the characters and trace their inner development. The... See more
I was half way through this book when I realized it was Nonfiction and all of the characters and events were real! Katherine Boo put in an amazing amount of research: so much that she could show the inner thoughts of the characters and trace their inner development. The story is very sad. A fiction book would have tied up all the stories into a nice package with a pretty bow. It was hard to see characters lose hope or, as they would put it, lose their inner ice and become dirty water. It was hard to see the those who stepped on their neighbors and embraced corruption rise while their neighbors fell. It was hard to read about the corruption and believe that, even armed with this new knowledge of a Mumbai under city, and with a desire to help, I have no easy way to uplift or give to these people. Any monetary donation would only line the pockets of the corrupt. Any other donation of goods would only be sold to do the same. Even so, I''m grateful for the work Katherine Boo did to show me this world and that she did it in such beautiful prose!
Helpful
Report
dandds
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This book is wonderfully written, but unrelentingly heartbreaking
Reviewed in the United States on February 13, 2018
This book is wonderfully written, but unrelentingly heartbreaking. I read it in 2 sittings, it is a complete page turner--impossible not to get caught up in the lives of the undercity dwellers as they are caught up in corruption, poverty, and rigid cultural and religious... See more
This book is wonderfully written, but unrelentingly heartbreaking. I read it in 2 sittings, it is a complete page turner--impossible not to get caught up in the lives of the undercity dwellers as they are caught up in corruption, poverty, and rigid cultural and religious norms. I did find the secondary title misleading--"life death and hope." I expected more in the way of hope. Any hope described in the novel is but a glimmer compared to the overwhelming burden of despair. I have friends from Mumbai, but I hesitate to ask their comments--feeling that their defenses will be automatic and very biased, and imagine they are as ill prepared to comment as I would be regarding a homeless encampment in Los Angeles'' skid row. The characters, while very appealing, show such emotional immaturity that little can be expected of their children in the way of hope. Neither Hinduism, Islam, nor Christianity is represented in anything resembling a positive light---Accurate I am sure--and even though this book for me was a downer---it is one of the very best non-fiction books I have ever read.
6 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Yael Politis
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Magnificent writer depicting a heartbreaking reality
Reviewed in the United States on January 20, 2019
An astonishing book. I knew nothing about it and bought it for no better reason than that it was for sale on BookBub and had a lot of reviews. Little did I know that I wouldn''t be doing much else for the next few days. At first I couldn''t put it down, the way you can''t help... See more
An astonishing book. I knew nothing about it and bought it for no better reason than that it was for sale on BookBub and had a lot of reviews. Little did I know that I wouldn''t be doing much else for the next few days. At first I couldn''t put it down, the way you can''t help gawking at a car crash. But what began as curiosity very quickly turned into painful empathy with these very vivid, human, flawed, loving, and hopeful characters. If you''ve ever tried to imagine what it would be like to live someplace like a Mumbai slum, you need wonder no longer.
One person found this helpful
Helpful
Report

Top reviews from other countries

Barry Bootle
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not much hope, but maybe just enough
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 22, 2013
I must confess I picked this book up with some trepidation. The subtitle - "Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum" - and the cover (of my copy), a young boy sprinting up steps into bright sunlight, made me think it might be another of those. You know, those. The...See more
I must confess I picked this book up with some trepidation. The subtitle - "Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum" - and the cover (of my copy), a young boy sprinting up steps into bright sunlight, made me think it might be another of those. You know, those. The post-Slumdog reportage. "Yes, conditions in Indian slums are appalling. But wait! Look at the way the children run and play! The sights, the smells! The way they can still laugh, in the face of such hardship. The way they just get on with the life they''ve got!" (What else are they supposed to do?) "So life-affirming!" The hope of it all! "Slumdog" is a good film. And a lot of the reportage is also good, and if it''s not it''s generally well-meaning. But I find it all a bit discomfiting. It''s human to believe in hope, but it seems to me that, as Westerners, focussing on the small hopes that slum-dwellers have might be a convenient way of deflecting our own guilt that people have to live this way. (And the likes of Amitabh Bachchan castigating "Slumdog" for focussing on a small part of Indian life might be an Indian way of doing the same thing). I thought this book might be more of the same. It wasn''t. Boo is no polemicist. She''s a true journalist, and she tells this story with a journalistic dispassion, making it all the more affecting. (She has a novelist''s eye, though; at times, the prose is breathtaking.) The stories are set in a small slum, rather than one of the giant cities-within-a-city like Dharavi; a wise choice, as she manages to paint a picture of a whole community, almost like a small village. There are a lot of characters to keep up with, and at times it''s downright confusing. But even this makes sense. After all, urban India is a confusing place, teeming with people. Despite the wonderful writing, there were times when I felt I could not go on. When I read about the disease and the filth and children being bitten by rats as they slept. The fungus "like butterfly wings" that grows on feet in the monsoon season. The exploitation and corruption, the abuse of slum-dwellers by the authorities, the abuse of slum children by their own families. The unsolved murders and streets-sweepers left to die on the pavements, the infanticide and the many suicides. And the hope - what there is of it - is almost the worst. That a family, pursued by a rotten judicial system, might not go to prison for a crime they did not commit. That one slum-dweller might, just possibly, scramble over others and into a very slightly less hardscrabble life. I cried again and again. I became very angry. Occasionally, I laughed out loud. At times I was so scared for the characters that I felt ill with it. And when I had finished, I thought about them all for a long time, and wondered what they are doing now, the ones that survived. Because, of course, there''s no story-book ending. Jamal does not win his millions. He doesn''t get his Latika. The story might end, but life in the slum staggers and claws and bites and struggles on. The people of the slum do questionable things - sometimes terrible things - to survive. But I think there is hope. They also do good things. That people forced to live like this could ever be decent, live by any kind of moral code, gives one hope of a sort.
71 people found this helpful
Report
P. G. Harris
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
courageous but flawed
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 13, 2017
Behind the Beautiful Forevers is the story of life in Annawadi, a slum situated close to Mumbai Airport. In the prologue we meet Abdul Hussain, a teenager who scratches a living for his family by sorting scrap scavenged by his neighbours and selling it for recycling. At the...See more
Behind the Beautiful Forevers is the story of life in Annawadi, a slum situated close to Mumbai Airport. In the prologue we meet Abdul Hussain, a teenager who scratches a living for his family by sorting scrap scavenged by his neighbours and selling it for recycling. At the start of the book, he is hiding from the police, fearful of being arrested for complicity in the attempted suicide of one of his neighbours. As the story opens out, we are introduced to the wider population of the slum, Asha, an unscrupulous fixer, desperate to climb out of the degradation and prepared to do just about anything to escape, her beautiful daughter Manju, who hopes that education will enable her to escape from an arranged marriage, Sunil, a young but resourceful scavenger, the one legged sexually voracious Fatima. The story spreads both backwards and forwards from Adbul’s flight from the law. It provides an account of how he came to be hiding under a pile of rubbish, and also the story of what came after. At its heart this book provides a fundamentally horrific picture of modern India. It is a society divided between extreme wealth and extreme poverty. It is a world of endemic corruption, where courts are not courts of justice but courts of law, and the law is driven by those who can pay for it. The slum is not a community, but a brutal dog eat dog world where the inhabitants gleefully seek to climb to the top of the rubbish heap by stepping on each others’ faces. It is a society in which external aid is cynically manipulated to divert funds to the powerful, not those in need. This brings me to the most shocking thing about the book. I read it for my book club, and so knew nothing about it when I picked it up. This is not, or is not positioned as, a work of fiction. This is a documentary. Author Katherine Boo is a journalist who worked within the slum, extensively interviewing, and filming the inhabitants. With that in mind, I find it quite difficult to criticise this brutally dispassionate account of a modern Dante’s Inferno. Living in the affluent west what right I have to form any opinion of an account of a society of such extreme poverty, degradation and struggle. At one level it is difficult to justify a world in which people are forced to live like this and to justify one’s own privileged position within it. Within that, the book for me posed some huge questions. Is this an inevitable part of development? Is it an inescapable part of economic advancement that societies must live through periods of extreme inequality in which huge numbers of people endure an horrendous existence? Is India, along with other developing countries, living through what countries like Britain experienced in Victorian times? Alternatively, is the horror of Annawadi a more modern consequence of globalisation? It is in asking these questions, that I begin to get a little more uncomfortable with the book. Of course, the author has been enormously brave in producing the work, and it is something I could never do. And she has provided a clear factual, unemotional journalistic work. And she and her husband are bringing benefits to the slum. I just question whether a dispassionate account is the right response to what she has seen. Anger, disgust, zeal would seem more appropriate than calm observation. The other problem I have with it is that it doesn’t really work structurally. I don’t like books where non-linear structure is used to make up for lack of narrative. Here there is no point to starting in the middle, other than to add complication. Secondly it is a hugely confusing book. It feels like a nature documentary, as the textual camera switches regularly between different inhabitants it is at times difficult to keep track of who is whom. Finally, there is no sense of closure, Boo just leaves her story in mid air, with no sense of resolution. I recognise that these features could also be seen as strengths. The confusing nature of the book reflects life in the slum, and the lack of a conclusion is just real life. However not even to reveal the result of the central court case is a very strange choice. So, in what is portrays, this is an admirable and important book, it’s just that I’m not convinced by the way the author tries to use the conventions of fiction to write a documentary.
5 people found this helpful
Report
S Litton
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Compelling, if depressing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 16, 2016
I had two problems with this otherwise excellent book. Firstly was the lack of context and a wider view. The focus is very narrow (claustrophobic, even), with no attempt to explain the larger forces at work which keep so many people trapped in grinding poverty. However, I...See more
I had two problems with this otherwise excellent book. Firstly was the lack of context and a wider view. The focus is very narrow (claustrophobic, even), with no attempt to explain the larger forces at work which keep so many people trapped in grinding poverty. However, I understand that Boo wanted to write something from the slum-dwellers'' point of view, rather than a sociological analysis, so I guess I can''t really criticise her for not writing a different book. Secondly, her methodology and style of writing caused me some problems. It''s written very much like a novel, including direct speech and passages describing the characters'' inner thoughts and feelings. I understand that Boo and her translators spent a lot of time in these slums, became close to the people, and gained their trust to the extent that they could almost forget that they were there, watching and listening and taking notes the whole time. And still, I can''t help feeling that there must be layers of interpretation and the presence of the observer must have had some effect, however small. I was conscious of this throughout most of the book and found it quite distracting. On the other hand it raises interesting questions about how any kind of reportage or non-fiction book is written. What''s undeniable is the power of the stories being told. The sense of hopelessness (in spite of the cover blurb which promised a book about "life, death and hope") is palpable, especially in the face of systemic and generally accepted corruption. At times it just became too depressing and I almost didn''t want to read on, but I''m glad I did.
One person found this helpful
Report
Sue Roebuck
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
On my list of best books read in 2014
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 2, 2014
Based on truth about life in one of Mumbai''s slums that borders Mumbai''s sumptuous new airport and the Hyatt Hotel, this book is humbling. Life in these slums could be on Mars, it''s hardly believable that humans still live like this (the book is set from 2008 to 2010) amid...See more
Based on truth about life in one of Mumbai''s slums that borders Mumbai''s sumptuous new airport and the Hyatt Hotel, this book is humbling. Life in these slums could be on Mars, it''s hardly believable that humans still live like this (the book is set from 2008 to 2010) amid the clear corruption, inefficiency and sheer cruelty of the Mumbai police, the gangs and politicians. I laughed at the ironic scene when one of the inhabitants is investigated for cruelty to his horses and the slum is visited by the Protection for Animals league who set up a protest, while the people of the slum watch in bewilderment since the horses had received better treatment than they ever had. I cried at the lack of humanity and kindness or sympathy shown to the slum dwellers who do not even seem to be regarded as part of human life and therefore the brutal murders of young people or the suicides of those with no hope are of no concern to the rich and those in power. How do we turn our backs on this otherworld of strife and despair where the only hope to improve is by begging? Beautifully portrayed by the author, this book will hit every emotion you have.
One person found this helpful
Report
GeordieReader
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Thought-provoking and moving account of life in a Mumbai shanty town
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 12, 2015
The people that Katherine Boo interviewed were poor beyond the comprehension of us in the west. Even those who were above subsistence levels couldn''t protect their babies from rat bites, nor could they expect any security from a corrupt state. These people were not however,...See more
The people that Katherine Boo interviewed were poor beyond the comprehension of us in the west. Even those who were above subsistence levels couldn''t protect their babies from rat bites, nor could they expect any security from a corrupt state. These people were not however, passive victims, but the tragedy is that all their hard work and ingenuity could only gain them an extra few pence per day. The author tells the slum dwellers'' own stories, including the details that were important to them. She interweaves personal accounts with carefully researched information about the social and political landscape. Like the rich, the poor were also adept at exploiting these situations for their own ends, which is why governmental and charity grants achieved little in the long term. Although the content of the book is superb, I didn''t much like the author''s style, which was too wordy. It seemed to me that she was often too concerned with finding a startling image, when it would have been better to present the facts in a straightforward way. This was not just an irritation. For me, it detracted from the authentic voices of the slum dwellers.
Report
See all reviews
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Customers who viewed this item also viewed

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Pages with related products.

  • a dog''s life
  • books about india
  • electronic readers

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale

Behind new arrival the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, 2021 and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity outlet online sale