Behind the Beautiful Forevers is certainly one of the best books I have ever listened to. The stories of the individuals are completely engrossing. But what makes the book so compelling, and so valuable, is the context in which the stories take place. You will not look at the global economy or India itself in quite the same way after this book. In particular there is a new understanding of, and perhaps tolerance (perhaps frustration) of the official corruption which exists in India.
The book is not uplifting, and in many instances is depressing. However the ironic humor of the author and the wry observations of her and the characters make it very enjoyable. The reading is outstanding and contributes substantially to the enjoyment of the audiobook.
It most reminds me of some of the Indian tragedies, like A Fine Balance by Mistry.
It takes you to another country. You feel as if you know the characters.
The slum dwellers really become persons of interest to you. They are three-dimensional human beings you care about. And when they suffer, you actually feel for them. The author is quite exceptional in transporting her readers to Mumbai in the 1990s.
No difficulty with names, places, etc.
Micro-economies and the price of global capitalism in the developing world.
No, I recommend the audiobook to all my friends. I have not actually read the book but heard about it from a friend. Then, I listened to it, and I was really captivated. It's marvelous!
This is a very listenable hybrid of actual events and people with the narrative voice of a novel. I truly couldn't turn it off once I'd started.
Two things - 1) understand that it needs realism but it was all disaster, corruption and struggle all the way through. Would have really liked a little "hope" thrown in there too. 2) Would have liked a stronger story thread - chopping and changing between so many characters constantly left me a little lost, especially when listening in small chunks.
Great voices, accents, gave atmosphere and realism to the story.
Amazing story & storytelling. The cast of characters in this book is so well-conveyed, and the writing is so good that it is easy to forget that this is a true story. Which makes it all the more incredible. Narration is well-done. Overall a good listen.
It is easy to forget that one is reading a work of nonfiction with Beyond the Beautiful Forevers. Katherine Boo's writing is so vivid, her storytelling so precise, her insights eerily telephathic, or so it seems, that one gets quickly enveloped into this story of the ruthless struggle for life, death — and brief, aching glimpses of a better life — that these slum residents endure day after day. I am amazed by this book, by Boo, by her three years living in the slum, and by the horrors she depicts of those who are among the poorest in our unjust and inequitable world.
Boo is a Pulitzer prize winner and I’ve had pretty luck with them (Ava’s Man, The Bridge at San Luis Rey.) She shows us the daily lives of the residents of Anawadi, a slum hard by glitzy Mumbai International Airport and a sewage lake.
This tale is relentlessly grim. The characters live in degradation which the poorest resident of the USA would find intolerable (the sewage lake being the prime example). Several of the residents are enterprising and amazingly hard-working. Abdul, a young Muslim trash dealer and sometime protag, spends endless hours at the soul-crushingly tedious work of sorting garbage for resale to recyclers. He is incarcerated and beaten for a killing that the authorities know was a suicide. Every person of authority who becomes involved in the case, be it doctor, coroner, police officer or other, is motivated solely by the desire to extract the maximum bribe possible from the family. This is far from the only tragedy/travesty of the book.
The story is told by an omniscient narrator as in fiction. How was the reporting done? Was Boo really listening to every conversation she relates? Her tale is fascinating and reading quite competent. Finally, though, I couldn’t take any more. In the last year or so I’ve visited the U.S. Great Depression (A Secret Gift), famine in China (The Good Earth), and general misery in North Korea (Nothing to Envy). In the U.S. the misery was lightened by generosity and shared suffering; in China by shared suffering, initiative and the passage of time; and in North Korea maybe not at all. In Forevers the poverty is bad enough but it floats in a sewage lake of brutality and corruption. I may just have hit poverty fatigue. I bailed about 2/3 of the way through.
no, the story went no where. so sad and horrible
no, I tried finishing but couldn't
I loved this book and when I listened to the author's summary of her experience writing the story I was astonished. Her words away from the story have me returning to contemplate situations that were presented to each character and the living situation they had to endure.