Rick'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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Jan 13, 13

Read from December 28, 2012 to January 01, 2013

Katherine Boo's book about the struggles of impoverished Indians trying to succeed and survive while living in the slums of Mumbai is one of the most highly praised books of 2012. I think that recognition is well deserved. As interesting and horrifying as the book is to read, Boo's accomplishment needs to be more carefully acknowledged. She is an American reporter who was able to embed her self deeply within the Annawandi slum and get a host of slum residents to confide their deepest thoughts and fears and hopes to her. If anybody has done a better job of in depth reporting and fact gathering then Katherine Boo I would love to hear about it.

In some ways the books findings are not the least surprising. Life for many people living in the slums of India is really very horrible no surprise there. However in focusing on the particular Boo also gives us tremendous insights into the general certainly in India but also in lots of other places throughout the world, including the United States. The forces of global capitalism present opportunities for people all over the world to change and improve their lives. It is by luck and hard work and cunning that some people climb the ladder of success but there are a lot of people at the bottom of the ladder who never get a hand on the first rung.

Boo shows us people working their way through the subculture of Indian poverty where at almost every turn they are confronted by corruption and contempt by the representatives of authority in India. I was appalled by the deep seated corruption endemic it seems to India. That was the most dispirtiing thing about the book -the people who live in Annawandi are real human beings -capable of decency but also of unbearable cruelty principally aimed at their fellow slum dwellers. The hand that most of them are dealt is really horrible. In Behind the Beautiful Forevers Katherine Boo argues persuasively that attention must be paid.
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Rochelle I've heard nothing but rave reviews regarding this book-it is definitely on my to-read list


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