26 October, 2020

Torchlights In The Swamp

Wit and restraint capture the venality of life in a Mumbai slum

Tribhuvan Tiwari
Torchlights In The Swamp
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

When did you last read a book about urban poverty that had you hooked from the first page? When did you last read a hauntingly evocative work of literary non-fiction that was also a breathtakingly rigorous investigation of corruption? When did you last read a reporter’s fast-paced tale about Mumbai’s underbelly in which the authorial ‘I’ never figured, except in an explanatory note at the end?

All manner of “India specialists”—journalists, sociologists, poverty-theorists, middle-class anti-corruption crusaders—may find themselves feeling inadequate by the time they have reached the end of Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Hamish Hamilton, 2012). A 47-year-old American journalist, who has spent most of her working life writing about poor people in the United States, has produced an astoundingly well-reported and beautifully crafted book on 21st century India that is already getting rave reviews (note: from Indians too). All our raging debates are here—but...

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