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Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity [Kindle Edition]

Katherine Boo
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Print List Price: CDN$ 18.00
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Sold by: Random House Canada, Incorp.
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Review

“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

“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

“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 tough-minded, inspiring, and irresistible book . . . Boo’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 importantly, she makes us care.”People (four stars) 

“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

Product Description

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 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 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 Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award
 
NAMED 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
 
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 • Newsweek/The Daily Beast • Foreign Policy • The Seattle Times • The Nation • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Denver Post • Minneapolis Star Tribune • Salon • The Plain Dealer • The Week • Kansas City Star • Slate • Time Out New York • Publishers Weekly
 
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
“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

“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] landmark book.”The Wall Street Journal
 
“A triumph of a book.”—Amartya Sen
 
“There are books that change the way you feel and see; this is one of them.”—Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
 
“[A] stunning piece of narrative nonfiction . . . [Katherine] Boo’s prose is electric.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“Inspiring, and irresistible . . . Boo’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.”—People

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2318 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (Feb. 7 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House Canada, Incorp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004J4X7JO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,633 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is for the person who wants to understand why abjectly poor people live (and die too young) in a modern, globalized world that should be able to deliver education and health for all. It was hard to put down and now I'm recommending it to others. Boo brings the subject of justice and poverty alive by making a non-fiction book read like a novel. Her characters, mostly youth living, working and trying to survive in a Mumbai, India slum, are unforgettable.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tremendous achievement May 5 2012
By Len TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Ms. Boo's story brings to life, the statistics and numbers that regale our magazines and newspapers about the grim existence of the India slum dweller. Unlike the movie, 'Slumdog Millionaire,' 'Behind the Beautiful Forevers' is not a story of impossible hope but one of incredible humanity. Ms. Boo provides us with insight into the daily travails of those who must eek out an existence by finding and sorting garbage, exploiting the largess of the Indian government and NGOs, and the temporary work provided by hotels and construction sites. The Annawadi slums are located next to the international airport in Mumbai. Around this mass of people living in shacks with little running water and few public toilets, stand luxury hotels servicing international travellers who pay little attention to the people they can see from their cars and taxis and hotel rooms. Abdul, a boy of seventeen or eighteen years of age, supports his mother, his alcoholic father and their many children by purchasing recyclables that he then transports by auto rickshaw for sale. His dedication and hard work have made him the envy of his Hindu neighbours who despise his Moslem ancestory. The neighbour, in a fit of envy and anger, pours kerosene on herself, and sets it on fire causing serious burns to much of her body. She blames Abdul, his sister and father for driving her to this act of desperation. The three must now face trial. Somehow, Ms. Boo through her vast collection of interviews and videotape, is able to share the inner feelings and thoughts of these people as the drama unfolds. I had to google the web just for reassurance that the book was, in fact, non-fiction. I've rarely read a book with so much to say about what it means to be human.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Painful and Difficult Read Sept. 20 2012
By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Story Description:

Random House Publishing Group|February 7, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-4000-6755-8

From the Pulitzer Prize-winner, Katherine Book, 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, see "a fortune beyond counting" in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Aha, 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.
Read more ›
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3.0 out of 5 stars pityful but true April 22 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The research and effort put into this book is commendable, no doubt about this, but:
I do not like Katherine Boo's style of writing.
Too often it takes you along just to bring you flat to nowhere.
It is extremely difficult to care for any of the characters depicted into the narrative because it doesn't focus enough on any of them, instead it brings a view of what life is in the slum from way too many experiences lived.

I already knew that life in India was pitiful ( been there , seen it, lived it) but really does this story brings anything to the subject?
Once you have read "a fine balance" from Rohinton Mistry it is pretty difficult to top this kind of misery.
So to me , this book only brings the chance for us westerners to have a glimpse of more misery without much in depth focus so this misery becomes useless for us to read , for them to live.
It shows us the hopelessness of India's poor when their country wants us to believe that they are getting into the 21st century with the rest of us.

India is an awful place , I get it but give me a chance to understand it, I need more than this, this takes you nowhere.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
A rather "blah" read if you like action books !! I wouldn't recommend...
Published 1 month ago by bindypup
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Very sad and depressing vignets of life in the slums of Mumbai.
Published 3 months ago by Vanni
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a very good book, but deeply sad
It's a very good book, but deeply sad. I feel like this book needs to come with a disclaimer that anyone who finishes reading it needs a full day to detox all the sorrow out.
Published 3 months ago by Darren D'Sa
2.0 out of 5 stars another book about terrible life in India
Depressing, another book about terrible life in India.
Published 8 months ago by Donna
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A must read. Important book.
Published 9 months ago by nancy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful and informative!
Published 11 months ago by Joan Buck
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Done Katherine Boo!
I am constantly fascinated reading non-fiction accounts of life among the poor and down -trodden in India. I never get tired of reading about this subject and have read several. Read more
Published 13 months ago by C. Hopkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching story about true life in one of the slums ...
Touching story about true life in one of the slums of India ..hard to read but fascinating ..what with having been there in February.
Published 14 months ago by Pat & Laird Saunderson
4.0 out of 5 stars Depressingly important
It's an eye-opener. But do I really need to know this?
It is a view of the hard hard world we live in. It's not new in India. I saw some of it in 1975. Read more
Published 14 months ago by In the cold north
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
For anyone who is concerned about what is going on in the developing world, and enjoys great writing. I had to remind myself it wasn't fiction.
Published 14 months ago by Searching
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