Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: February 2012
Categories: Asia, India, Poverty
Source: Library book

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:

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.

A conversation on Twitter led Nadia (from A Bookish Way of Life) and I to read this book at the same time. Check out here review HERE!

22 thoughts on “Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

  1. I've been wanting to read this since it came out, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. It sounds so amazing. It seems like a book that would really put things into perspective.


  2. I cannot get enough reading about India and South Africa. I want to travel to both very much. I especially adore reading about them in the very cold winter. Great review.


  3. The hope of people in that situation sounds a brilliant thing to read about, just because. (Rather than saying they're inspiring and all that). I'd definitely be interested to hear Boo's personal take on everything and how her other knowledge fits in the context of the settlement.


  4. I've heard a lot of good things about this book but keep putting off reading it. I think perhaps because of the subject matter, which I'm sure will be depressing at amny levels.


  5. Hi Jennifer,So nice to read your review. I voted for this book in the 2012 goodreads reader choice awards without even having read it myself! I heard about it and knew what it was about so I wanted it to get the attention of more readers. Having said and done that, I really need to make time to read it myself! You've reminded me to do so!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s