Beyond the Beautiful Forevers

Beyond the Beautiful Forevers

by Katherine Boo

Gail Reid (01/30/13): This is the story of the residents of the Annawadi slum which grew out of a half-acre near the Mumbai airport, a stone's throw from some of India's most glamorous hotels. The 300 families subsist by garbage collecting and selling to recyclers in horrid conditions where food is often scarce and privacy is non-existent. Corruption is rampant among the police, the politicians, and the residents.

Why read this book which is drenched in abject poverty? The author, Katherine Boo, a prize-winning journalist spent three years researching material, conducting interviews and entrenching herself into the lives of the people she writes about. She employs narrative non-fiction so skillfully that the book reads as smoothly as fiction. These real people are all richly portrayed and memorable from the teenage Abdul who has elevated his family's status a notch with his savvy scavenging skills; and Asha, a woman on the rise in slum politics who siphons off funds slated for the community.

It is difficult to recommend a book that is so gut wrenching but I learned a great deal about a completely different world than the one we live in. Critics and readers have consistently praised Behind the Beautiful Forevers and it is the winner of the 2012 National Book Award.
Rating: *****

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