Behind the Beautiful Forevers
[life, Death, and Hope in A Mumbai Undercity]Paperback - 2014
Winner of the National Book Award | The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award | The Los Angeles Times Book Prize | The American Academy of Arts and Letters Award | The New York Public Library's Helen Bernstein Book Award
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times * The Washington Post * O: The Oprah Magazine * USA Today * New York * The Miami Herald * San Francisco Chronicle * Newsday
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New Yorker * People * Entertainment Weekly * The Wall Street Journal * The Boston Globe * The Economist * Financial Times * Newsweek /The Daily Beast * Foreign Policy * The Seattle Times * The Nation * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * The Denver Post * Minneapolis Star Tribune * Salon * The Plain Dealer * The Week * Kansas City Star * Slate * Time Out New York * Publishers Weekly
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"A book of extraordinary intelligence [and] humanity . . . beyond groundbreaking." --Junot Díaz, The New York Times Book Review
"Reported like Watergate, written like Great Expectations, and handily the best international nonfiction in years." -- New York
"This book is both a tour de force of social justice reportage and a literary masterpiece." --Judges' Citation for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award
"[A] landmark book." -- The Wall Street Journal
"A triumph of a book." --Amartya Sen
"There are books that change the way you feel and see; this is one of them." --Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
"[A] stunning piece of narrative nonfiction . . . [Katherine] Boo's prose is electric." --O: The Oprah Magazine
"Inspiring, and irresistible . . . Boo's extraordinary achievement is twofold. She shows us how people in the most desperate circumstances can find the resilience to hang on to their humanity. Just as important, she makes us care." --People
From the Hardcover edition.
From Library Staff
From the critics
QuotesAdd a Quote
"Water and ice were made of the same thing. He [Abdul] thought most people were made of the same thing, too. He himself was probably little different, constitutionally, from the cynical, corrupt people around him - the police officers and the special executive officer and the morgue doctor who fixed Kalu's death. If he had to sort all humanity by its material essence, he thought he would probably end up with a single gigantic pile. But here was the interesting thing. Ice was distinct from - and in his view, better than - what it was made of.
"He wanted to be better than what he was made of. In Mumbai's dirty water, he wanted to be ice. He wanted to have ideals. For self-interested reasons, one of the ideals he most wanted to have was a belief in the possibility of justice." (p. 218)
"When I settle into a place, listening and watching, I don't try to fool myself that the stories of individuals are themselves arguments. I just believe that better arguments, maybe even better policies, get formulated when we know more about ordinary lives." (p. 251)
"There being no way around the not-being-Indian business, I tried to compensate for my limitations the same way I do in unfamiliar American territory: by time spent, attention paid, documentation secured, accounts cross-checked." (p. 249)
"He [Sunil] was well suited to his work as a new-economy microsaboteur." (p. 194)
SummaryAdd a Summary
An incredibly well researched and well told story of the lives of slum dwellers in Mumbai which captures their struggles, hopes, resilience and adaptability. Katherine Boo spent several years getting to know some of the residents of a slum near the Mumbai airport and presents a gripping story based primarily on the Muslim family of Abdul , a garbage sorter, who is falsely accused of a crime that has grave repercussions for his family. We see through the lives of these slum dwellers the impact of pervasive corruptness, globalization, religion, caste and gender. Quick paced and well told
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