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

Hardcover
Language: English
Publisher: HAMISH HAMILTON
Rs. 499 10% Off
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Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (English) (Hardcover) Price: Rs.449

Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity is a non-fictional account of the Annawadi slum of Mumbai, India. It has been authored by Katherine Boo and has won the National Book Award.

Summary Of The Book

Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity is an interesting, detailed account of the Annawadi slum of Mumbai. Annawadi is a slum in Mumbai built on land belonging to the Mumbai Airport. Boo offers a deep insight into the lives and daily tribulations of the inhabitants of the Annawadi slum in her book. The book is not a work of fiction and hence, offers a realistic view on the residents of the densely populated slum.

Katherine Boo lived in Annawadi for three years while she did research for her book. The characters she writes about in the book are real and so are their everyday issues, struggles and conflicts. The book focuses primarily on three families of Annawadi. Young Abdul, who is a garbage collector, and his family consisting of his parents and two siblings, Fatima, his neighbor, and Asha who works for the Shiv Sena, are the three families who the book is centered on.

The story begins with Fatima setting herself on fire out of vengeance. The events leading up to her immolation are left unexplained in the beginning and the book progresses giving a detailed account of the life at Annawadi. Boo builds up the story and the characters as she narrates the difficult yet intriguing life in Annawadi, until the story reaches the point where Fatima attempts to immolate herself. The lives of the characters become clearer after this point in the book and Boo begins to give an informed and educated insight into the dreams, hopes and fears of the residents of this illegal slum in Mumbai.

Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity is a very realistic account of the lives of the slum dwellers of Annawadi. The book has been widely read and received critical acclaim for its unflinching description of the reality of the slum dwellers in India. The book was awarded the National Book Prize and Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

About Katherine Boo

Katherine Boo is a journalist and author.

Katherine Boo was born on August 12, 1964. She grew up in Washington D.C. and graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University. She has won several awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the Columbia Journalism Award, the National Book Award and the MacArthur Fellowship for her excellent work. Her husband, Sunil Khilnani, is a professor of politics and the Director of the India Institute at King's College. She has written several articles and has received awards for exceptional work in her field. She has also written articles for The New Yorker. The Marriage Cure won her the National Magazine Award. She also wrote After Welfare, another article for The New Yorker and won the 2002 Sidney Hillman Award for it.

Specifications of Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (English) (Hardcover)

Contributors
Author Katherine Boo
Book Details
Publisher HAMISH HAMILTON
Publication Year 2012
ISBN-13 9780670086092
ISBN-10 0670086096
Language English
Binding Hardcover
Awards National Books Awards winner
Award Year 2012
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Book Reviews of Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (English)

TOP REVIEWS View All Top Reviews (17)

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★★★★★
★★★★★
19 Feb 2012
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Prey

Katherine Boo's first book "Beyond the Beautiful Forever" rises beyond journalism as it follows the life of a group of youngsters for a while in a slum called Annawadi near Mumbai's Sahar airport.

The book has gathered great reviews already. Joseph Lelyveld called it the "best piece of journalism to come out of India in the last fifty years". Shashi Tharoor and Jonathan Shinin, the editor of Caravan, have very high praise for it.

The lives of the children are blighted by the utter lack of prospects and their knowledge of it. That the stunted rag picker, Sunil, has a sp...
()

Katherine Boo's first book "Beyond the Beautiful Forever" rises beyond journalism as it follows the life of a group of youngsters for a while in a slum called Annawadi near Mumbai's Sahar airport.

The book has gathered great reviews already. Joseph Lelyveld called it the "best piece of journalism to come out of India in the last fifty years". Shashi Tharoor and Jonathan Shinin, the editor of Caravan, have very high praise for it.

The lives of the children are blighted by the utter lack of prospects and their knowledge of it. That the stunted rag picker, Sunil, has a sp...
Katherine Boo's first book "Beyond the Beautiful Forever" rises beyond journalism as it follows the life of a group of youngsters for a while in a slum called Annawadi near Mumbai's Sahar airport.

The book has gathered great reviews already. Joseph Lelyveld called it the "best piece of journalism to come out of India in the last fifty years". Shashi Tharoor and Jonathan Shinin, the editor of Caravan, have very high praise for it.

The lives of the children are blighted by the utter lack of prospects and their knowledge of it. That the stunted rag picker, Sunil, has a spurt of growth in the brief months when he turns into a thief, tells us of the kind of deprivation these children live in. They are in danger from corrupt policemen, their means of livelihood, and, some, even from their parents. These children are not free agents; they are prey. All this will not surprise an Indian reader.

What surprises is that the view of life is entirely from the children's eyes. The book gets its power by entering their minds, where the awful circumstances of their lives almost appear ordinary. This unswerving viewpoint brings us to understand that they are not statistics, they are individuals, with individual motivations and failures. In doing this the book rises beyond journalism to reach towards the psychological understanding of a novel.

Katherine Boo makes an appearance only in the last chapter where she writes about the methods that enabled her to enter the minds of children and teenagers who are not very expressive. This too is a fascinating insight, although to a different world: the motives and methods of a Pulitzer-winning journalist.

8 of 8 users found this review helpful.
★★★★★
★★★★★
29 May 2012
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Brilliant narration

I agree. The unfortunate story of deprivation and poverty surrounding the luxury enjoyed by a few in India is an ubiquitous truth every Indian is aware of. What is uncommon is the way in which the narrative has been structured. It does not focus on the poverty or the deprivation. It gives respect to the individual. In a land overflooded with billions, an individual's story is often tramped over in favour of a collective, especially if the individual belongs to cattle class. But kudos to Boo's brilliance, her narrative has brought about the pathos of the individual into focus while describin... ()

I agree. The unfortunate story of deprivation and poverty surrounding the luxury enjoyed by a few in India is an ubiquitous truth every Indian is aware of. What is uncommon is the way in which the narrative has been structured. It does not focus on the poverty or the deprivation. It gives respect to the individual. In a land overflooded with billions, an individual's story is often tramped over in favour of a collective, especially if the individual belongs to cattle class. But kudos to Boo's brilliance, her narrative has brought about the pathos of the individual into focus while describin...
I agree. The unfortunate story of deprivation and poverty surrounding the luxury enjoyed by a few in India is an ubiquitous truth every Indian is aware of. What is uncommon is the way in which the narrative has been structured. It does not focus on the poverty or the deprivation. It gives respect to the individual. In a land overflooded with billions, an individual's story is often tramped over in favour of a collective, especially if the individual belongs to cattle class. But kudos to Boo's brilliance, her narrative has brought about the pathos of the individual into focus while describing a collective of people.
The end result being that the book is an effortless read. She has kept her and her perspective totally out of the narrative and concentrated only on the subjects of her narration. You get drawn into the book and before you know it, the book ends- as effortlessly as it began- leaving behind a few morsels of thought- admiration for the human spirit that sustains itself in the darkest of hours and respect for the almost 4 years of research and empathy that underlies the book.
A must read !!!

3 of 3 users found this review helpful.
★★★★★
★★★★★
02 Mar 2012
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certified buyer
Its not something Indians don't know about

This is the true narrative of people in a Mumbai slum called Annawadi. While this may be something new or shocking from a westerner's point of view, I think every Indian knows this story. We hear it in our everyday news reports, we see it in the daily lives of lesser privileged people around us. I guess the motive of this book is to make people sensitive to the issue of poverty and the cycle of corruption and greed, but like I said its not that we Indians are not aware of the issue, its just that we turn a blind eye and do nothing about it. And in that respect I think this book will only se... ()

This is the true narrative of people in a Mumbai slum called Annawadi. While this may be something new or shocking from a westerner's point of view, I think every Indian knows this story. We hear it in our everyday news reports, we see it in the daily lives of lesser privileged people around us. I guess the motive of this book is to make people sensitive to the issue of poverty and the cycle of corruption and greed, but like I said its not that we Indians are not aware of the issue, its just that we turn a blind eye and do nothing about it. And in that respect I think this book will only se...
This is the true narrative of people in a Mumbai slum called Annawadi. While this may be something new or shocking from a westerner's point of view, I think every Indian knows this story. We hear it in our everyday news reports, we see it in the daily lives of lesser privileged people around us. I guess the motive of this book is to make people sensitive to the issue of poverty and the cycle of corruption and greed, but like I said its not that we Indians are not aware of the issue, its just that we turn a blind eye and do nothing about it. And in that respect I think this book will only serve as a speaking point for elitist who keep talking about the corruption and poverty but do nothing at all about it.

64% of 11 users found this review helpful.
★★★★★
★★★★★
04 Mar 2012
A common everyday story - in an uncommon way

Yes, this is not something the everyday Indian does not know about, Reading about the lives of the characters portrayed in the book, won`t excite you at all, won`t make you look up to them because you see this people everyday.

Reading first few pages for me was just flipping through pages, nothing new, yeah I know we do best in attracting news about our poverty. I am sure any non-Indian would read these accounts with two eyes pooped out.

The beauty of the book catches on you once you know all the characters and then the book moves narrating the events of their life.

That`s when it grabs...
()

Yes, this is not something the everyday Indian does not know about, Reading about the lives of the characters portrayed in the book, won`t excite you at all, won`t make you look up to them because you see this people everyday.

Reading first few pages for me was just flipping through pages, nothing new, yeah I know we do best in attracting news about our poverty. I am sure any non-Indian would read these accounts with two eyes pooped out.

The beauty of the book catches on you once you know all the characters and then the book moves narrating the events of their life.

That`s when it grabs...
Yes, this is not something the everyday Indian does not know about, Reading about the lives of the characters portrayed in the book, won`t excite you at all, won`t make you look up to them because you see this people everyday.

Reading first few pages for me was just flipping through pages, nothing new, yeah I know we do best in attracting news about our poverty. I am sure any non-Indian would read these accounts with two eyes pooped out.

The beauty of the book catches on you once you know all the characters and then the book moves narrating the events of their life.

That`s when it grabs you, Katherine`s superb journalistic language fueled from the eyes of a child, would make atrocious ordinary to you and ordinary as atrocious.

Read the book not for the topic but, for the style.

2 of 2 users found this review helpful.
★★★★★
★★★★★
13 Feb 2012
first to review
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certified buyer
Fabulous work

A great piece of work backed by thorough research, great language and the necessary sensitivity. Nowhere in the book the author tries to sensationalize the topic or characters. Wonderful non-fiction work coupled with fabulous narration.

2 of 2 users found this review helpful.

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★★★★★
★★★★★
20 May 2014
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India Bashing

Want an award? It's easy. Describe the slums of India in graphic detail - including the number of dead animals that have contributed to the filth, put in some amount of corruption, a few warped love stories - there you have it! A sparkling new award. Hats off to the work Katherine has done,... (View complete review)

★★★★★
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27 Mar 2014
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Fantastic book - not grand or epic, but pertinent

With a nrrow clear focus, this book brings a slice of life in Mumbai most hardcore Mumbaikars are unfamiliar with. (View complete review)

★★★★★
★★★★★
25 Jan 2014
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Heartbreaking Beauty

As beautiful and heartbreaking as any book you'll ever read. A book that will stay with you, and will make you want to go back to page 1 the moment you have finished it.
The book reads like a novel, but it is not. It is a tremendous work of non-fiction, one which was made possible by years of bac...
(View complete review)

★★★★★
★★★★★
02 Jan 2014
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Very Moving Book

Very Good Book. All Indians should read it. It is not just about a Mumbai slum, but can be about many an Indian place - a city slum or even poor villages, with minor differences. (View complete review)

    Book: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (English) by Katherine Boo
    ISBN Number: 0670086096, 9780670086092, 978-0670086092

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