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Behind The Beautiful Forevers Paperback – Large Print, February 26, 2013
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"[An] exquisitely accomplished first book. Novelists dream of defining characters this swiftly and beautifully, but Ms. Boo is not a novelist. She is one of those rare, deep-digging journalists who can make truth surpass fiction, a documentarian with a superb sense of human drama. She makes it very easy to forget that this book is the work of a reporter. .... Comparison to Dickens is not unwarranted."
--Janet Maslin, "The New York Times"
"A jaw-dropping achievement, an instant classic of narrative nonfiction...With a cinematic intensity...Boo transcends and subverts every cliche, cynical or earnest, that we harbor about Indian destitution and gazes directly into the hearts, hopes, and human promise of vibrant people whom you'll not soon forget."
"Riveting, fearlessly reported....["Beautiful Forevers"]""plays out like a swift, richly plotted novel. That's partly because Boo writes so damn well. But it's also because over the course of three years in India she got extraordinary access to the lives and minds of the Annawadi slum, a settlement nestled jarringly close to a shiny international airport and a row of luxury hotels. Grade: A."
"A tough-minded, inspiring, and irresistible book ... 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 importantly, she makes us care."
--"People" (four stars)
--"The New York Times Book Review"
"A shocking--and riveting--portrait of life in modern India. ... This is one stunning piece of narrative nonfiction ... Boo's prose is electric."
--"O," The Oprah Magazine
"Gripping...A brilliant novelistic narration."
-"Wall Street Journal "
"Moving.... a humane, powerful and insightful book....A book of nonfiction so stellar it puts most novels to shame."
-- "Boston Globe"
"A mind-blowing re
About the Author
Katherine Boo is a staff writer at "The New Yorker" and a former reporter and editor for "The""Washington Post." Her reporting has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur "Genius" grant, and a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing. For the last decade, she has divided her time between the United States and India. This is her first book.
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Katherine Boo is blessed with perception, awareness and understanding. I was blown away by her ability to capture the everyday judgements, intentions and attitudes of the residents of Annawadi and to provide an intimate looks into the oppression, corruption and abuse of poverty.
-- It reads like a novel, even a thriller, not a book of nonfiction. Katherine Boo drops you into the action from the very first page: a diligent and principled boy escaping from the authorities for a crime he didn't commit. She gets you inside the head of the 16-year old garbage collector, his fears, his motivations, his rat-infested pile of trash which is his only hiding place. From there, she radiates out into the entire slum of Annawadi, into the minds of few dozen other characters from the 3000 families huddled around a sewage lake next to the gleaming Mumbai Airport and its luxury hotels.
-- It's an extraordinary feat of reporting. For the central event of the book, Boo does 168 interviews. Additionally, she digs up 3000 government documents (no mean feat in the Indian bureaucracy) and spends 4 years of being right there with these folks. As a result, you come to understand the interconnectedness of all the lives of these complex, talented, vibrant people: their ethnic, religious and caste strife; their dealings with systemic corruption wherever they go; and the wages of crushing poverty, how they adapt to it, how they hope to escape to a better life. The suffering is real and deep, yet somehow Katherine Boo conveys the heartbreak without being preachy or sentimental.
-- It's also a call to action. You cannot read this book without having it soften your heart, expand your circle of compassion, understand the global consequences of everything we do, and have greater gratitude for all the privileges many of us take for granted.
The writing is also fluidly beautiful. This book is one of the best I've read in any genre. Read it to understand life a little better.
-- Ali Binazir, M.D., M.Phil., Happiness Engineer
Considering karma plays a role in Indian life, very little thought is given to it here. Bye and large, corruption, lies and deceit are the rule. Even those who pay lip service to being above the fray are not exempt.
Kate Boo has done a wonderous thing. Her tale pulls no punches and lays all bare. As she wrote this 2008-2011, some things have progressed. More attention is bing paid to the corruption of the police. However, for most of the characters life continues in the same vein.
The Forevers was brilliantly collated over years of research. Boo is an acute and sensitive observer. Throughout the work one feels that she's making these conversations up. Don't. Read her afterword, where she describes her working methods. This view of lives so different from ours should be required for every HS student in the U.S.