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Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity


Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity Cover

ISBN13: 9780812979329
ISBN10: 081297932x
Condition: Standard
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MM6, February 16, 2015 (view all comments by MM6)
Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a masterpiece. From the first chapter, Boo created an atmosphere that draws the reader into a world that is most likely completely foreign. She combines eloquent and captivating language with the raw, real, dialect that is common to the people she writes about. This book overflows with death and oppression, but at the same time opens the reader's eyes to the kind of hope we are all searching for. Beautifully written and masterfully researched, Behind the Beautiful Forevers made me want to read every other book Boo has ever written; it's hard to believe this was her debut.
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cwestlake07, October 23, 2014 (view all comments by cwestlake07)
This is a beautiful book, written with prestige and truth. This inspired me to do better things and greatly humbled me, making me appreciate all of the things I am so fortunate to have.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
slobrosld, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by slobrosld)
Heartbreaking, yet uplifting-reads like a novel.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
MICHAEL CULLINAN, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by MICHAEL CULLINAN)
Behind the Beautiful Forevers was a deeply affecting book for me. It was uncomfortable, unsettling. Embracing the world Boo describes and the lives of her characters was inevitable for me. It left me emotionally drained and disturbed. It was an unforgettable experience. In spite of the inevitable pain of the characters, I could not stop reading. The images Boo created will haunt me. The eyes of the street people I walk by outside of Powell's are not the same anymore.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Colorado Jess, January 6, 2013 (view all comments by Colorado Jess)
This is a gritty intense book that tells it like it is. Katherine Boo has worked hard to blend in, as well as a white person can, to record accounts of poverty, love, greed, lust and so many other emotions common to us all. I am forever changed and thankful of my new awareness. One can no longer live in ignorance about the lives of other less fortunate people. Stunning.
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Product Details

Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
Boo, Katherine
Random House Trade
World History - India
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:

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History and Social Science » Asia » India » Ancient and General
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History and Social Science » World History » India

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity Used Trade Paper
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Product details 288 pages Random House Trade - English 9780812979329 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "A Mumbai slum offers rare insight into the lives and socioeconomic and political realities for some of the disadvantaged riding the coattails (or not) of India's economic miracle in this deeply researched and brilliantly written account by New Yorker writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Boo. Divided into four parts, the narrative brings vividly to the page life as it is led today in Annawadi, a squalid and overcrowded migrant settlement of some 3,000 people squatting since 1991 on a half-acre of land owned by the Sahar International Airport. (Boo derives her title from a richly ironic real-world image: a brightly colored ad for floor tiles repeating 'Beautiful Forever' across a wall shutting out Annawadi from the view of travelers leaving the airport.) Among her subjects is the fascinating Abdul, a sensitive and cautiously hopeful Muslim teenager tirelessly trading in the trash paid for by recycling firms. Crucially, Boo's commanding ability to convey an interior world comes balanced by concern for the structural realities of India's economic liberalization (begun the same year as Annawadi's settlement), and her account excels at integrating the party politics and policy strategies behind eruptions of deep-seated religious, caste, and gender divides. Boo's rigorous inquiry and transcendent prose leave an indelible impression of human beings behind the shibboleths of the New India." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Boo creates an intimate, unforgettable portrait of India's urban poor... Boo brilliantly brings to life the residents of Annawadi, allowing the reader to know them and admire the fierce intelligence that allows them to survive in a world not made for them. The best book yet written on India in the throes of a brutal transition."
"Review" by , "[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."
"Review" by , "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."


The New York Times • The Washington Post • O: The Oprah Magazine • Slate  • The Kansas City Star

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.

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