Emily Crowe's Reviews > Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
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Sep 03, 14

bookshelves: nonfiction
Read from February 24 to June 12, 2012

Holy cow--this book took me forever to finish. Perhaps if I'd been reading it other than the place where I was reading it, it would've taken significantly less time.

Which doesn't mean it wasn't a tremendously moving and thought-provoking piece of narrative nonfiction. It was. It's just nigh on impossible to imagine the world that Boo presents us, a world where lives are held so cheaply and religious conviction so dearly that a Hindu woman can reasonably choose to set herself on fire to frame her Muslim neighbors for her murder. Where corruption is not just a fact of life, but institutionalized, the warp and the woof of the civic fabric. Where children are hit by cars on the side of the road and left for dead because it's not convenient to help them, and where it behooves the police to rule their cause of death astuberculosis in their reports.

I honestly don't know what more I can say about it, other than it's appalling for me to sit in my middle class splendor and ponder the impossible conditions to which we abandon our fellow humans.

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Cyd (new) - added it

Cyd It's a much more lighthearted scene but in The Coroner's Lunch, Colin Cotterill's main character gets into something of an argument with a judge who wants him to rule the cause of death of a fisherman who was rammed and cut in half by a military launch as "heart attack". Because after all he wasn't a young man and being hit by the launch may have been very surprising.


message 2: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer J. Evison told me last week that a little first world guilt is a very good thing. I am inclined to agree and I've been hungry to read this book - thanks for the review!


Cynthia Great review. I struggled to finish this book, not because it wasn't worth finishing, but because it was so painful and upsetting to read.


message 4: by Donna R (new)

Donna R I'm smiling a the first words of your review - Indian cows are indeed holy!


Emily Crowe Donna wrote: "I'm smiling a the first words of your review - Indian cows are indeed holy!"

I wish I had thought of that pun, but alas, I didn't. :)


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