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Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Feb 7 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (Feb. 7 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781400067558
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400067558
  • ASIN: 1400067553
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 2.8 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #57,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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

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.

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Customer Reviews

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Zack Gross on April 11 2012
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Len TOP 100 REVIEWER on May 5 2012
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER on Sept. 20 2012
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.
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Format: Paperback
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. This account did not disappoint. As sad as the story is I could not wait to read every page. I think the author did an excellent job of research and I commend her for her persaverance in getting at the true facts and actually being in the slum. The most enjoyable part was the "Author's Notes". Recounting how she gathered all the information for this book. Well Done! It is however very sad to think that in this day and age that the poor around the world are still so poor and vulnerable. I am so lucky to be born a Canadian who was given the freedom to build a happy successful life.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Touching story about true life in one of the slums of India ..hard to read but fascinating ..what with having been there in February.
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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.
I hope the Indian economy takes off and brings some relief to everyone.
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