Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
By Katherine Boo
About the Book
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.
About the Author
Katherine Boo is a multi-award-winning journalist, whose works are mainly concerned with America’s underprivileged people.
Apart from The Beautiful Forevers, Boo has also written New York City: Random House.
Katherine writing is said to be compelling and yet intimate, and her novel is fast paced and candid. Her dedication to helping society can be seen in her vastly researched work, which has won her numerous awards.
Katherine Boo was born on August 12, 1964, and grew up in Washington D.C. Although of Swedish origin, she was raised in America when her father became an aide to the U.S. Representative, Eugene McCarthy. She married Sunil Khilnani, the director of the India Institute at King’s College, and also a professor of politics. Boo embarked on her journalistic career after graduating summa cum laude from Barnard College.
She started out with editorial positions at Washington’s City Paper and then went on to writing for The Washington Monthly and later The Washington Post. In 2000, the Pulitzer judges recognized her work to be the chief factor to induced reforms to the homes of the mentally retarded and awarded her the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Her article on social justice, After Welfare, won the Sidney Hillman Award in 2002. After having contributed to The New Yorker for two years, she joined its staff in 2003 and won The National Magazine Award for her article, The Marriage Cure, which was a portrayal of Oklahoma’s endeavors to educate the underprivileged populace about the benefits of marriage.
Hindu Review by Aman Sethi