Steven Borowiec'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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M 50x66
's review
Jul 10, 2012

liked it

In light of all the hype this one has gotten, I wasn't taken in by it. Yes, the writing is very strong. There are wonderful sentences, paragraphs and scenes in this book that bring to life the struggle of some people who are barely getting by while luxury buildings rise around them.

But as a book, as a cohesive work that comes together to make a statement and tell the reader something unique and moving, i think this work falls short. The microscopic focus on small and intimate details, while powerful in places, tells us perhaps more than we need to know about the circumstances faced by these folks and not enough about why or how they ended up there. I would have liked the narrative to include time with the local police who lurk in the background as villains and/or collaborators. Or even some of the people who work in the nearby airport or patronize the hotel. It's a serious and engaging work of literary non-fiction, but to this reader, it's not the classic some people are calling it.
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