Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum by Katherine Boo


From Goodreads

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.
My thoughts

3.5 stars.

I picked up this book from the Library when it was listed as Book of the Month in my local Library.  It's not a book or Author that I'd heard about before but I was drawn to it by the cover if I'm honest.  It's not even a subject that I'd normally choose to read about either.

Whilst I found this book enlightening in some ways, it was at times quite a grim sad read and did bring tears to my eyes.  I was surprised to read how the poverty of the slums and the work that the slum dwellers do, takes place very close to the more upmarket hotels and airport.  Whilst I feel that the Author had done some extensive reasearch on the subject, I wasn't enamoured with the writing style which was rather more narrative than informative and tended to read like a novel as it was at times quite dialogue driven.

If you're looking for something different to read that isn't a novel but isn't totally non fiction either then this might be right up your street.

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