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Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity

Katherine Boo

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

This enhanced eBook features exclusive video footage shot over the course of three years by the author and several children of the Annawadi slum.

From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great, unequal cities.
 
In this brilliantly written, fast-paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human.
 
Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter—Annawadi’s “most-everything girl”—will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.”
 
But then Abdul the garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. As the tenderest individual hopes intersect with the greatest global truths, the true contours of a competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the imaginations and courage of the people of Annawadi.
 
With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.

Publishers Weekly Review

Oct 17, 2011 – A Mumbai slum offers rare insight into the lives and socioeconomic and political realities for some of the disadvantaged riding the coattails (or not) of India’s economic miracle in this deeply researched and brilliantly written account by New Yorker writer and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Boo. Divided into four parts, the narrative brings vividly to the page life as it is led today in Annawadi, a squalid and overcrowded migrant settlement of some 3,000 people squatting since 1991 on a half-acre of land owned by the Sahar International Airport. (Boo derives her title from a richly ironic real-world image: a brightly colored ad for floor tiles repeating “Beautiful Forever” across a wall shutting out Annawadi from the view of travelers leaving the airport.) Among her subjects is the fascinating Abdul, a sensitive and cautiously hopeful Muslim teenager tirelessly trading in the trash paid for by recycling firms. Crucially, Boo’s commanding ability to convey an interior world comes balanced by concern for the structural realities of India’s economic liberalization (begun the same year as Annawadi’s settlement), and her account excels at integrating the party politics and policy strategies behind eruptions of deep-seated religious, caste, and gender divides. Boo’s rigorous inquiry and transcendent prose leave an indelible impression of human beings behind the shibboleths of the New India.

Customer Reviews

Must read for people who have visited India

I have been to India quite a few times on business and have wondered how life is in the slums that pass by the window. In this book Boo gives us an inside look with a minimum of moralizing or recommendations of causes and solutions. You get the sense that she is not twisting stories to make a political point. This makes the reporting in this book appear to be quite honest and the insight unique and valuable. if you care about India and wonder how poor people there can better there lives and even how you might influence outcomes in this fascinating society, read this book.

smithstl

Truman Caopte-esque, shades of Hemingway, frontline in the Annawadi slum

Katherine Boo's work in Annawadi began a few months after I got to spend 3 months myself working and traveling in India in 2007. I visited Mumbai one weekend, winding up in a record setting flood. Children swam in the streets and power was shutdown to prevent electrocution in parts of the city. I visited the Siddhi Vinayak, temple to Ganesh, that is mentioned at one point toward the end. I got to know India firsthand mostly in Hyderabad, India's fifth largest city. I saw many of the things that Katherine describes so clearly - the corruption, the thronging people, the Hindu caste sensitivities and the Hindu/Muslim tension. Also the terrorists and communists rebellions -- two bombs killed more than 40 people in Hyderabad while I was there.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a great read that tells several great stories about pathetic, heroic and highly relatable characters, whose lives intertwine in the slum and with the city and with the villages the slum-dwellers migrate from. The emotional arc, attention to everyday detail and unflinching realism reminded me of a much older (1935) fictional work, Untouchable, by Mulk Raj Anand. The only thing I found wanting from Katherine Boo's book was more, I wanted it to go on longer. I look forward to what she comes out with next.

Fantastic

Great read!! Hard to put down!!

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Behind the Beautiful Forevers
View In iTunes
  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Social Science
  • Published: Feb 07, 2012
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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