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From Pulitzer 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Book Reviews

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity
Average rating
3.9 / 5
Behind the Beautiful forevers
September 27th, 2015
It was a wonderful book!! I enjoyed it very much!!! I would highly recommend to everyone to read. I could hardly put it down!!
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1 review
Great book!
March 21st, 2014
This is an amazingly vivid and thought-provoking view into the real challenges that face the poor in India and the rest of the world.
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1 review
Great book
March 16th, 2014
An insightful and shocking look into life in the slums of India
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1 review
Interesting, but not brilliant.
January 20th, 2014
In a pile of books of this nature, does this one stand out? Not really. Perhaps, because of the authenticity of the writing and research.
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1 review
Behind the Beautiful Forevers
January 16th, 2014
Moving book about the hardships and culture of life in the wretched slums of Mumbai, from the eyes of children.
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1 review
1 person found this helpful
Hard to believe this isn't fiction
May 31st, 2013
I need to think about this one for awhile. I saw these slums. They ARE shocking, especially juxtaposed with the modern hotels. The most important part of the book was in the post script when she says Indian people walk past others who are suffering, not because of their Hindu belief in reincarnation, but because they've seen so much they are deadened by it.
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1 review
Behind etc by Boo
April 20th, 2013
Lovers of Indian literature will really enjoyed this. Its hard to believe it is non fiction
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1 review

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