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.
|Title:||Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity||Publisher:||Thorndike Press|
|Edition:||Hardcover Large Print|
|No. of Pages:||421|
The book title is clunky. It doesnt exactly trip off the tongue. When ordering my copy from Infibeam I typed Beyond instead of Behind in the search field. The search engine promptly amended it, though. The title comes from an advertising hoarding for Italian floor tiles that used to be on the since demolished wall behind which the by now world-renowned slum abutting the Mumbai airport, Annawadi, exists. Though clunkily named, the book is far from clunky. It reads like a Charles Dickens novel set in present-day Mumbai, though fiction it most definitely is not. Katherine Boo has done an exceptional job of making us feel albeit at second hand what it is like to exist like a virtual nobody at the bottom of the social pyramid of Heartbreak City with the most tenuous temp work link with the life in the legitimate metropolis and with all the cards in the deck stacked against the sub sister. No names have been changed to protect anyones privacy or to ward off the peril of getting sued for defamation. The book is a piece of pure reportage devoid of judgemental subtext an admirable feat rarely achieved in chronicling life, high or low. Being an outsider may have helped Boo to reach this state of equanimity while telling the story. It certainly seems to have lent a down-to-earth perspective to the narrative.
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