Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Feb 7 2012
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“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
“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.See all Product Description
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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 ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I applaud the author for actually living in the slum to record and witness the every day life of the people that live there. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Sheri
The poverty and misery were real but I felt the storyline could have been developed it left me expecting more.Published 3 months ago by Elaine Stubbens
Wow, I just re-read all the reviews and I guess I am in the minority here. The book just was tedious to me. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Karen Gillgrass
A rather "blah" read if you like action books !! I wouldn't recommend...Published 7 months ago by bindypup
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 9 months ago by Darren D'Sa