Behind the Beautiful Forevers

by Katherine Boo
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What is the general scenario of Behind the Beautiful Forevers?

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This prize-winning non-fiction book is distinguished through its choice of setting. Boo writes her work based around the life of slum dwellers in Mumbai, India, who live in a slum that lies just next door to Mumbai International Airport. In fact, the slum is built in part on land that belongs to the airport. Throughout the novel, Boo's writing points to an utterly bizarre juxtaposition of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, enjoyed  by the characters that she presents the reader to, that is stark in its contrast. Note how this is first signalled as Boo describes the scenario of her work at the beginning of the text:

Serving the airport clientele, and encircling Annawadi, were five extravagant hotels: four ornate, marbly megaliths and one sleek blue-glass Hyatt, from the top-floor windows of which Annawadi and several adjacent squatter settlements looked like villages that had been airdropped into gaps between elegant modernities.

As Abdul's younger brother says, "Everything around us is roses... and we're the shit in between." The scenario in this text is therefore driven through the contrast between the immense wealth as characterised in these hotels and the airport and the staggering poverty that governs the life of those who live only a stone's throw away from such luxury. Boo takes as her focus in this work the underclass in India who are responsible for so much of India's economic growth and yet who remain invisible. The scenario of this book sets out therefore to deliberately and consciously make these invisible figures visible to the reader.

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