Katherine Boo's book Behind the Beautiful Forevers has been garnering quite a bit of attention. It is narrative non-fiction at its best, as Boo writes of life in Mumbai for the city's poorer residents. Annawadi is a settlement next to the Mumbai airport, full of makeshift homes and residents struggling to get by. Abdul picks and sells trash trying to earn money to help his family make a better life. Asha, is a kindergarten teacher who plots and schemes about ways to make easy money, and who has sent her daughter Manju to college. Fatima "One Leg," another woman in the community, has set herself on fire and died, her family accusing the Hussains of her death. Each person has dreams and desires, but their life circumstances make them nearly impossible to achieve and for many their lives are cut short.
While I was reading I had to constantly remind myself that this was a work of non-fiction. The goings-on seemed storylike and in some ways unbelievable. The poverty in India is not news to me, but Boo has put a human face on the lives of Annawadians.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers is such an amazing book - both for its content and its writing. Even readers who do not normally enjoy non-fiction would be hard pressed not to find this book a brilliant read.