...the butterfly effect of the harrowingly interrelated global economy described in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo's first book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers...narrative nonfiction work catalogs a period of three years, beginning before the global market crash of 2008, of the Husain family, supported by a teenage trash-buyer named Abdul, and others who scrape together a living in a slum called Annawadi...depicts a modern India in the throes of embracing the Western-spun dream of unchecked capitalism and the upward mobility that supposedly comes with it... The great irony exposed within the book's finely wrought pages, however, is the lie of equality in the new age of global markets, particularly when it comes to the extremely poor ...a richly detailed tapestry of tragedy and triumph told by a seemingly omniscient narrator with an attention to detail that reads like fiction while in possession of the urgent humanity of nonfiction.
A Pulitzer Prize winner and recipient of a MacArthur 'Genius' award, Boo spent more than three years exhaustively researching Behind the Beautiful Forevers, interviewing residents, visiting jails and courts, and poring over thousands of pages of public records ...this bravura work of nonfiction reads more like a novel for the gratifying completeness of its characters and the journey they travel over the course of several months in 2008, centering on the shocking death of a female resident of the slum and a young man who is falsely accused of her murder ... Hunger, disease, hazardous jobs and continual threats that the slum will be razed add to sense of impermanence and powerlessness for Annawadi denizens ... Boo brings us inside their world... Boo's writing skills are such that she can render even a dirty slum lovely, and on a deeper level, extract sublime irony from a seemingly straightforward news story.
... she[Boo] listens closely and intelligently. But the most unusual is that she teases them — or lets them tease themselves. You can feel the richness of her affection in her ironic appreciation of their oddities ... Boo, who never uses the word I and usually sticks closely to her subjects’ points of view, limits her own interpretations to a short author’s note at the end of the book ... As Boo follows them around, we see how much they are able to make of their limited and sometimes downright lousy options — and we also see the kind of daily binds that make it so difficult, when you start at the bottom, to get economic purchase ... Boo has never put forward policy suggestions or articulated political ideals, but in her American reporting she has considered the effects of specific policy initiatives on the lives of the people she writes about.