Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

I think this says it all: I thought this confronting tale of life in a Mumbai slum in the early 2000s was fiction (such was the “unrealness” of it) until I got to the end and read the epilogue where the The New Yorker poverty correspondent Katherine Boo explains that every single detail is true. And that she spent four years living in the slums to get the full, graphic, stranger-than-fiction story.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Rebecca Boo
Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo

Background: Two friends had mentioned Boo’s book. Then I saw it in the library at the India clinic, shoved down the back. I have a three strikes rule. So I had to give it a crack. The upshot being that it’s now One of My Favourite Books Ever.

The gist: Boo follows a collection of slum characters as they navigate their daily human-ness in slummy filth, throwing up inevitable observations on capitalism, consumerism, corruption and character. The reader is forced to confront their own grubby lives. And their narrow take on poverty.

The best bits: The tale in itself is gripping (made more so by the fact it’s true), but the prose is what got me

Read more