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Ironic Inequality

posted by: April 18, 2012 - 10:14am

Behind the Beautiful ForeversBehind the Beautiful Forevers has everything a reader could ask for – drama, fast-paced narrative, compelling characters, and a fascinating setting. Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo has written an incredibly engaging, deeply human story. Her powerful new book takes an unflinching, intimate look at poverty in one of the world's most interesting, dynamic, and economically uneven cities: Mumbai.


Journalist Boo tells the stories of the residents of Annawadi, a slum set in the shadow of Mumbai's gleamingly modern International Airport, and just steps away from luxury hotels. Sitting atop tons of garbage and next to lakes of sewage, Annawadi is home to nearly three thousand squatters. They are making a living off of the refuse of their wealthy neighbors while trying to improve their lot in life. For more than three years, Boo lived among the families and recorded their stories. While she was initially treated with suspicion, over time the residents of community began to trust her and share their stories, sorrows, and hopes for the future.


Boo primarily focuses on human drama that plays out in the lives of one family and a few of their neighbors during her time there. Readers meet Abdul, a teen who sorts garbage each day, providing his family's only source of income; Zehrunisa, a formidable matriarch and Abdul's mother; Asha, Annawadi's powerful political negotiator; and Asha's bright daughter, Manju (the slum’s "most everything girl") who hopes that education will be her ticket to a better life. Boo tells their stories with clear, understated prose that remains fiercely riveting from beginning to end.


Readers of The Washington Post and The New Yorker will be familiar with Boo's relentless journalism and crystal-clear writing style. Throughout much of her career as a journalist, she has focused on telling the stories of society's poor and neglected citizens. Behind the Beautiful Forevers is set to be the most critically acclaimed title of the year. It has been praised in nearly every major media outlet for the author's fearless reporting, unblinking honesty, and understated prose. Boo’s ability to tell an incredible story makes Behind the Beautiful Forevers a book not to be missed.





Revised: August 13, 2012