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Behind the Beautiful Forevers

[life, Death, and Hope in A Mumbai Undercity]
Boo, Katherine (Book - 2012 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers
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Profiles everyday life in the settlement of Annawadi as experienced by a Muslim teen, an ambitious rural mother, and a young scrap metal thief, illuminating how their efforts to build better lives are challenged by religious, caste, and economic tensions.
Authors: Boo, Katherine
Title: Behind the beautiful forevers
[life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity]
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2012.
Edition: 1st ed.
Characteristics: xxii, 256 p. ;,25 cm.
Notes: Subtitle from jacket.
Contents: Prologue: Between roses
Part one: Undercitizens. Annawadi ; Asha ; Sunil ; Manju
Part two: The business of burning. Ghost house ; The hole she called a window ; The come-apart ; The master
Part three: A little wildness. Marquee effect ; Parrots, caught and sold ; Proper sleep
Part four: Up and out. Nine nights of dance ; Something shining ; The trial ; Ice ; Black and white ; A school, a hospital, a cricket field.
Summary: Profiles everyday life in the settlement of Annawadi as experienced by a Muslim teen, an ambitious rural mother, and a young scrap metal thief, illuminating how their efforts to build better lives are challenged by religious, caste, and economic tensions.
ISBN: 9781400067558
1400067553
Statement of Responsibility: Katherine Boo
Subject Headings: Urban poor India Mumbai. Mumbai (India) Economic conditions 21st century.
Topical Term: Urban poor
LCCN: 2011019555
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Library Staff

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Boo presents an intimate portrait of the wrenching lives of the inhabitants of Annawadi, a slum situated across from Mumbai's spanking new airport, to reveal the terrible inequality still endemic in India's democracy. Among them is Abdul, a young trash picker w... Read More »

List - 2012 Books I've Read by: hzabski Dec 26, 2012

Highly recommended.

Boo 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.


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 thro... Read More »


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This amazing book explores the lives of the poor underclass in a rapidly modernizing India. Living in the shadows of the beautiful Mumbai airport the Annawadi slum residents make their way as well as they can, living, loving and trying to make a living as best they can.

Jun 14, 2014
  • IPL_Mandy rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book tells the story of multiple people living in a Mumbai slum and how their lives are intertwined. It switches between their different voices, giving varied perspectives on the same situations while still advancing the story. As with most books about India, it is a sad story, but one well worth reading. This is the kind of book that grows compassion.

Serving suggestion: chapatis with dal

I read the book and how unfortunate for the slum dwellers to live that way. Oprah did a show of the Mumbai slums and it hardly even comes close to what is the real reality behind what its really like. Katherine Boo takes you on a deep journey into true character and the real core characteristics the mind sets of real people and real lives. This is a must read, a definate page turner.

Jan 28, 2014
  • ncinnb rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book was heartbreading to read. The poverty and corruption the author describes seem insurmountable, but the human spirit shines through and the will to live is strong. I love the book's title - so mundane yet so deep!

Oct 28, 2013
  • madison382 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Could not enjoy this book, because the subject matter was so sad, however I am glad I read this book, so that I can be more appreciative of what I have, and of the country I live in.

Aug 29, 2013
  • gracindaisy rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book was not an easy read; however, I came away with a vivid glimpse of life in an Indian slum and the insurmountable poverty plaguing each character, so much that it drove some to suicide. Even though it is non-fiction work, at times it read like fiction because of the great contrast to my own life experience. The unpredictability of life in an Indian slum makes one appreciate some of the things we take for granted in the US – the rule of law, healthcare, basic housing, city water and sewage systems.

Jul 13, 2013
  • icujock rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Whoa! A KO. Having lived in Mumbai, I can say that Ms Boo has portrayed the conditions accurately. Grinding poverty, unknown to us in America, makes for some great Dickinsonian story-but the not so hidden message is about human nature and the ability to prevail under subhuman conditions.

Jun 24, 2013
  • AKTimmerman rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

I really did not care for this book. I understand the author was trying to help us understand the life of the very poorest in India. It is just that I was already aware of this via other books and news outlets. But, I do appreciate the author's commitment to telling the story.

Jun 17, 2013
  • patienceandfortitude rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is a hard book to read, about poverty in the slums of India -- a world completely different than the one I know. The lives of those portrayed are complex in their misery and their hopes. There are no easy answers to solve their desperate poverty and corruption is just part of the system. I'm glad I read this book as it is eye-opening, although very disturbing.

Jun 04, 2013
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

“What was unfolding in Mumbai was unfolding elsewhere, too. In the age of global market capitalism, hopes and grievances were narrowly conceived, which blunted a sense of common predicament. Poor people didn’t unite; they competed ferociously amongst themselves for gains as slender as they were provisional.” Katherine Boo gives an intimate look at life in a Bombay slum.

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Version pocillo (pocillo) Last updated 2014/09/02 11:42