3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A remarkable and remorseless portrait of contemporary life in a Mumbai slum,
This review is from: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum (Paperback)
This is a remarkable and remorseless portrait of contemporary life in a Mumbai slum told from the perspective of several true-life families - based upon 4 years of 'on location' research and daily contact with the people depicted.
Ruthlessly competitive garbage rifling and endemic corruption almost stifle the lives of the children and women at the centre of the book - but a certain stoic endurance enables most, though not all, to survive.
Alongside the powerfully told tales, Boo gives us compelling political and statistical data (in merciful brevity) which ground the grimness in a credible, broad context. In an afterword, Boo writes of her instinctive surprise that the poor do not take political action against their oppression - but, as she tells us implicitly and explicitly, most poor people blame and scheme against each other in the face of an overwhelmingly indifferent government and culture.
As a novel, this work lacks sufficient unity but as a factual narrative of great human interest, with an admirable lack of sentimentality, it is very readable. Occasionally, Boo loses steam or repeats herself, but her passionately dispassionate non-fictional narrative generally works at a literary level because we learn about the emotional and darker sides of the main characters, especially the children.