Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity is a stunning work of narrative nonfiction that recounts the sometimes heartbreaking and always dramatic tale of families dreaming of a better life in one of the giant, socially stratified cities of our time.
Based on three years of expert journalism, this quick moving and brilliant book brings to life an era of inequality, and unprecedented global change.
At the foot of the exclusive hotels surrounding the Mumbai airport, sits the ramshackle neighborhood of Annawadi, where the residents are full of hope for their future in a newly prosperous India. An ambitious Muslim teenager, Abdul, sees riches beyond his wildest dreams in the recyclable trash thrown away by the wealthier. Asha has mapped out her path to the middle class through political corruption. If all goes well, her daughter will become the first woman in Annawadi to graduate college. Even Kalu, a teenage scrap metal thief, feels that the good life is within reach.
But soon tragedy strikes Abdul, and the city is shaken by the global financial crisis. Tensions over power, sex, caste, religion and financial envy, suppressed in times of prosperity, are suddenly unleashed. As powerful global realities clash with the most fragile of human dreams, the hope and bravery of the Annawadians is revealed, along with the hardest truths about life in a competitive era.
With Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Katherine Boo, best known for chronicling the struggles of America's poor, shifts her insightful focus to India, paints a vivid picture of unforgettable people living in a time of violent change.
Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells
the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a
better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great, unequal cities.
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. Download and start listening now!