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Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Community Action Book Club

For her reporting from disadvantaged communities, the author of this month's book has been awarded
a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur “Genius” grant, and a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing


Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

by Katherine Boo, 288 pages, published February 7, 2012

**DON'T MISS** Questions for Readers to Explore
Scroll down for review, author interview and more

Discussion Forum

Readers are encouraged to add comments at the end of this posting to describe how the book relates to your work, your thoughts on issues brought out by the author, your overall impressions of the book, etc. - see Guidelines for Comments.

Questions to Explore
  • Comparing poverty in the United States to poverty in Annawadi as described in the book
    • What are some differences?
    • Similarities?
  • Annawadi is a Mumbai “Undercity” – a low-income community that’s hard to see
    • How visible, or not, is poverty in the U.S. – rural areas – urban areas?
    • How much awareness do people have of the extent and effects of poverty in your community?
  • Identify some examples of extreme poverty and other levels of poverty depicted in the book? How would you portray the challenges of different situations like this among the people served by your agency?
  • The contrast between wealth and poverty is depicted throughout Behind the Beautiful Forevers
    • How noticeable are such disparities in your community?
    • What effect do they have?
  • The author notes that “across the country, in communities decidedly short on saviors, they were improvising, often ingeniously, in pursuit of the new economic possibilities of the twenty-first century.”
    • What strategies are used by low-income families to survive in the United States?
    • What does it take to “move up the economic ladder” in the U.S. and what are the obstacles?
    • What are some strengths and capabilities that can serve as assets in efforts to escape poverty among people served by your agency?
    • What views of the future do parents have for their children? What views do youth have for themselves?
  • What would it take to have reducing poverty in the United States become a priority:
    • At the local level?
    • At the national level?

Please LET US KNOW if you have any suggested titles for future selections.

From IndieBound

Description of Behind the Beautiful Forevers – From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great, unequal cities.

In this brilliantly written, fast-paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human.

And More

CBS This Morning
Behind Beautiful Forevers” highlights hope (5:32) – Prize-winning author talks about writing of life in Mumbai

Finding ‘Life, Death and Hope’ in A Mumbai Slum (20:43) – listen to this interview with Katherine Boo

More from Katherine Boo – articles in The New Yorker
Archives of nine articles by Katherine Boo

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