Thursday, January 3, 2013

Top Five Books #5: Behind the Beautiful Forevers

First a confession. I'm reading three books at once. The Island of Second Sight by Albert Vigoleis Thelen is translated from the German and has an intimidating blurb from Thomas Mann (yes, that Thomas Mann), but Liz from the Bookstore recommended it, so I'm delving into its five gazillion pages but don't have a sense, yet, on whether or not I'm going to love it. I'm finishing up How to Think More About Sex by Alain De Botton, a writer whom I normally avoid ever since I read his pretentious book about Proust, but this one is catchy and yes, sexy, and I'm nearing fifty years old, so go where you want with why I might be reading this book, (hint: it isn't because I'm getting old). I haven't finished Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers, either. In fact, I've only just begun and am only about one quarter through it. But I can already tell that it's going to be one of my favorite books read -- begun -- this year. Boo won a Pulitzer prize for it, reporting on the nearly three years she spent in the Annawadi slum of Mumbai, just below the international airport. I'm already sucked in as if I were reading a novel, immersed now in the story of one small boy who sells garbage that he's picked through to recyclers and thus lifts his family above subsistence level. I can think of only a handful of non-fiction books that I've devoured as opposed to read dutifully, and this is one of them.

"Everything around us is roses, and we're like the shit in between." 
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo 


  1. i just read Boo's book; blew me away. check out Random Family, by the author who blurbed Boo's book on the back cover--adrian nicole leBlanc. it is similar in its engagement. written a while ago about generational patterns of young women having children at a very young age. same kind of immediacy that Boo conveys--but in the Bronx.

  2. I heard the author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers interviewed on NPR. I have been hoping to get it soon. Enjoy!

  3. Gasp -- what a confession, Elizabeth! Love the quote (love, love) and will add the book to my reading list. I'm currently reading 'at dawn' by Jobie Hughes, published in 2012. Never read this dude before, and I can say he is brilliant.

  4. I have been to India twice and the poverty is just overwhelming. I would definitely be interested in reading this book - I heard on NPR that it is non-fiction which reads like a novel. Great review!



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