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Katherine Boo's book is a good antidote for Gregory David Roberts' Shantaran. Whereas Shantaram appears to view its Mumbai slum through some type of fantasy haze that is ultimately used to glorify its author, Boo's Mumbai slum is stark, unadorned, and filled with people who are barely surviving (or in many cases, not surviving). At times, I felt like a car driver who has been mesmerized by an accident on the side of the road - at other times I simply felt sad and wondered what drew me to this story. For me, this book represents another important facet of India - the conflict between Hindus and Muslims, poverty, corruption, and misery - that needs to be appreciated along with all of the other literary efforts to portray India. Although this is a grim story, it also highlights the grit, ingenuity, and perseverance of people who live on the edge.
32 of 33 people found this review helpful
While Behind the Beautiful Forevers describes in specific detail life in a makeshift community neighboring the Mumbai India international airport, it explains what poverty looks like, feels like and how it shapes the lives of millions who live without any basic resources, including shelter, water and sanitation, throughout the world. Anyone living in, or are a policy maker in, a first world country should read this book if he or she wants to understand the privileges they take for granted.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful