Today is the release of a very moving book we’ve all been very excited about BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity from Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo. It is a landmark work of narrative nonfiction about families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great global cities. Be sure to check out the amazing website for the book. It includes photos, video, a discussion guide, and an author Q&A for curious readers who want to learn more.
The book has gained a few honors from booksellers this month including:
***Barnes & Noble Discover Pick
***Barnes & Noble Best Books of the Month
We were very thrilled when we received the following review that really captures the beauty of the book. It was sent in from Janet Lockhart, the Recreational Reading Librarian, from West Regional Library part of Wake County Public Libraries. You can read the Wake County Libraries Book-a-Day blog where Janet is a contributor here, it’s filled with some great book reviews.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers Review by Janet Lockhart:
At one time, the travelers on the road to the Suhar International Airport in Mumbai could look out their car windows and see a tall, shiny, aluminum fence. Ads for a company that sold floor tiles ran its length. “Beautiful Forever” read the corporate slogan.
Behind that wall promising eternally beautiful floors lay what airport management didn’t want customers to see: Annawadi, a slum first settled in 1991 by workers brought in from southern India to repair an airport runway. Seventeen years later, when Katherine Boo did the research that led to this book, three thousand people still lived and worked there.
Boo introduces us to several Annawadi residents and gives us intimate glimpses into their lives. There is Abdul, the young entrepreneur striving to improve the fortune of his family through recycling garbage. We meet Asha, a rising star in the political life of the settlement. We watch Abdul’s neighbor, Fatima, make a fateful choice that changes lives forever.
This is a gorgeously written book, but not an easy story to read. Abdul, Asha and Fatima are people with few resources struggling to succeed in a corrupt system that does not seem very fair, especially to the poor. Boo shows how precarious their lives are, and how quickly hardworking people can find their lives turned upside down by circumstance.
Boo, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and current staffer at The New Yorker, has spent two decades writing about poverty. She hopes this book will “show American readers that the distance between themselves and, say, a teenaged boy in Mumbai who finds an entrepreneurial niche in other people’s garbage, is not nearly as great as they might think.”
She succeeded with this American reader. I quickly grew to care about the people Boo portrays so vividly, especially Abdul. The three years Boo spent in Annawadi researching this story were evident. She made me see the dwellings and the faces of the people she met, and experience their daily struggles.
I would recommend this book to readers who like nonfiction that reads like fiction, people interested in India, readers with an interest in economic issues, nonfiction book clubs, and last, but not least, to devotees of beautiful writing.
*** We thank Janet for her amazing words and if you’ve read one of our galleys recently please send it our way at email@example.com. Your review might be featured on our blog too!!! ***