by Katherine Boo

Reviewer Rating:
4

Review

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo was awarded the National Book Award for her first novel, Behind the Beautiful Forevers : Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.  Journalist Boo has written about poverty for two decades and was compelled to investigate the struggles of the poor in areas with extreme disparity of wealth. 
The breakneck globalization of India brings new hope for a country that holds one-third of the planets poor.  Its younger generations abandon old ideas about accepting the life assigned to one’s caste and set out to invent their own livelihoods.  The reporter spent nearly four years visiting Annawadi, a makeshift settlement outside the airport of Mumbai surrounded by towering five-star hotels.  Through her unsentimental lens we learn the resonant stories of its residents.
One young boy, Abdul Hakim Husain, has become an expert trafficker in rich people’s garbage.   Success is dependent on his missable presence and avoiding trouble is operating principle.  But in a world so capricious, he cannot escape the corruption for long and he is falsely accused of murder.  As he awaits his trail we find Abdul wants to have ideals, to believe in the possibility of justice.  Or as he put it - In Mumbai’s dirty water, he wants to be ice.
Katherine Boo has written a work of narrative nonfiction both tender and beautiful, an expert mix of reporting and storytelling.

One not to miss: BLOOD BROTHER, the Sundance award winning documentary of an Indian orphanage for children with AIDS and the work of American Rocky Braat.

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