Non-fic­tion

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - BOOKS -

Be­hind The Beau­ti­ful Fore­vers Kather­ine Boo, Scribe Publi­ca­tions, $27.95 Boo’s beau­ti­fully writ­ten nar­ra­tive tells the story of the res­i­dents of An­nawadi, a sprawl­ing Mum­bai slum. At the book’s heart are the small am­bi­tions of An­nawadi’s res­i­dents – such as teenaged Ab­dul, who sorts garbage for a liv­ing, or the schem­ing Asha who sees po­lit­i­cal pa­tron­age as her pass­port to the mid­dle classes – as they fight to drag them­selves free of poverty. Boo uses painstak­ing ob­ser­va­tion to get in­side their heads, re­count­ing the res­i­dents’ lives in the first-per­son. If run­ning the risk of over-in­ter­pre­ta­tion, she suc­ceeds in cap­tur­ing the re­source­ful­ness of slum dwellers, along with the ever-present cor­rup­tion and petty jeal­ousies that threaten to spi­ral out of con­trol. Ju­lian Swal­low

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