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.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers is stunning.
Boo writes about the extreme poverty of a particular slum in Mumbai. The struggle to overcome religious differences, alcoholism and the lack of jobs are day-to-day issues for the residents of the Annawadi settlement Education is almost non-existent. Raw sewage flows throughout the slum. Suicide is common. Government corruption is rampant.
Boo spent a number of years embedded in the Annawadi slum and she writes about the people there realistically and with compassion.The hope that these people have is inspiring. They work hard and believe that they are one lucky break away from making it.
This book is an eye-opener that I can’t recommend highly enough.