Thursday, February 16, 2012

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai Undercity [Kindle Edition] by: Katherine Boo

It's this type of book that makes me glad I read. I've seen photos of places like this, but somehow I knew they were real, but I suppose chose not to learn more. I have read the reviews on this book, and would like to add to our book club list for next year. I think if we ever began to realize how much we have to be thankful for that our lives would be so much richer.

The author of this book is an American Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Katherine Boo,is married to an Indian man. She has spent the last few years doing scrupulous research for this book which is a realistic portrayal of life in a Mumbai slum. All the people are real. All the incidents really happened. And the writing itself is so good that it hooked me from the very beginning and kept my eyes glued to the pages.

This is a world where whole families live in cardboard shacks where sewage runs raw after storms, education is mostly nonexistent and the worst forms of corruption is everywhere. Here we meet the real people in the area - the young boy who scavenges scrap metal, a woman who tries to be political and the one college student who hopes for a brighter future. We also learn about the diseases that disable people and the compromises made just in order to put some food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. And then there is the endemic corruption. The police are paid little and depend on graft to make a living. expect to collect it whenever they can. Hospitals are filthy stink holes. And members of the community are so afraid of getting involved that they will let a man with a broken leg lie in the street for several days until he eventually dies.

The book is so well written that it brought me into the hearts and minds of these people who live in the shadow of a luxury hotel and an expanding airport. In spite of their poverty they have learned to be resourceful and struggle along the best they can.

The book reads like a novel. And, in a way I sure wish it was. It is just too painful to realize that this is all real. Hopefully, its publication will help to make a difference.
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