CHECK IT OUT: Food for Fines accepted through Dec. 31

Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM.


“Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Katherine Boo, has garnered much award attention this year, including Library Journal’s Top Ten.

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

Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees "a fortune beyond counting" in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a one-legged woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternative route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter — Annawadi’s "most-everything girl" — will soon beco

me its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a 15-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe they’re inching closer to the good lives and good times they call "the full enjoy."

Then Abdul is falsely accused of driving his neighbor to suicide in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal.

With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change, these characters are impossible to forget.

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