17 June, 2021

One Leg In A Gunny Sack

One tastes the entrails of a seething Mumbai slum in this vivid, visceral account

Tribhuvan Tiwari
One Leg In A Gunny Sack

The city formerly known as Bombay has Dickensian qualities. Minutes away from some of the most expensive real estate in the world, you can find tubercular families living in concrete drainage pipes. It is cramped, fast and glamorous, and it has Bollywood—offering boundless dreams. The scale of Mumbai’s divisions and its atmosphere of ambition may explain why, in recent years, the city has been served by nonfiction of the highest quality: Meenal Baghel’s Capote-style reconstruction of a sensational murder, Death in Mumbai; Sonia Faleiro’s eye-popping study of bar dancers, Beautiful Thing; and Suketu Mehta’s blockbuster, Maximum City.

Katherine Boo comes to India with str­ong credentials. A Pulitzer Prize-winn­ing American journalist, she has a reputation for reporting the lives of the disa­d­­vantaged in extraordinary detail, without sentimentality. Take this splendid ope­­ning sentence of a piece she published in 2003 in The New Yorker, about a...

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