Behind the Beautiful Forevers:


Katherine Boo

Is an Investigative Journalist, who spends her time documenting society's within poverty. She was born August 12, 1964, in Washington DC, during her life she has won many awards such as

-Pulitzer Prize for Public Service

-MacArthur "Genius" award

-National Book Award


This book focuses on Poverty and the struggle to get out. It also focuses on Trust Loyalty and Commitment. Theses families throughout the book our tested on their faith in each other at home as well in court.

Over View= Pahā cēṇḍū

This is a Documentary about the little makeshift settlement found in Mumbai called Annawadi, this settlement lay in the shadows of the big luxury buildings that loom above. Many people who live in this area strive for what they call "A better life."  During this book it shows the struggle a couple of families went through, and what they had become only to reach a common goal in poverty. It includes a lot of emotional and distraught struggles that these people had.  

Characters= Varṇa

  • Abdul is a boy in his mid to late teens and a second generation garbage picker. He is the family breadwinner, having taken up the void left when his father's illness left him unable to work. Abdul is accused (along with one of his sisters and his father) of Fatima's death. He is one of the main characters of the book.
  • Asha is the mother of Manju. She is the ruthless unofficial slumlord of Annawadi. A slumlord is a "person chosen by local politicians and police officers to run the settlement according to the authorities' interests." She is actually a great rarity in India, for female slumlords are not common in the least bit. Usually if a woman is in power it is attributed to the success of her husband; she is considered a stand in. Asha, contrary to most women, holds her own, while her husband does little. She is the mother of three children and has taken care of the household for the most part by herself. Many of her neighbors do not even think of her as a wife. Asha has made her living by being manipulative. She creates problems or makes problems seem larger than they really are and then makes people pay her to fix those problems. Even though she herself started at the bottom, she is not sympathetic in the least bit when people need her help, even when those people are friends. Her logic is that everybody is afforded the same opportunities, so what is the point in giving back to her community? She has an "every man for himself" logic.
  • Manju is Asha's teenaged daughter. She is trying to become the first female resident of Annawadi to graduate from college. Manju, unlike her mother, is a very sweet girl who cares a great deal about the feelings of the people surrounding her.
  • Sunil is an adolescent boy who was kicked out of the orphanage across the street from Annawadi because Sister Paulette decided that any boy over the age of 11 was simply "too much to handle". Thus, Sunil was introduced to the harsh life of living on the streets.
  • Fatima is a one-legged woman from the slum who lived next door to Abdul and his family. She got into an argument with Zehrunisa and then set herself of fire (eventually dying from her injuries) and blamed Abdul, Zehrunisa, and Karam for it.
  • Kalu is a homeless thief with tuberculosis. He was Abdul's friend and also briefly worked with Sunil. He was violently murdered at the airport, but his death was attributed to tuberculosis. "Official" cause of death, determined without autopsy, was TB.
  • Subhash Sawant is the elected official (Corporator) of Ward 76, which includes Annawadi. He lied about his caste (saying it was lower) to qualify as Corporator of the Ward, due to quota requirements.
  • The rest of the characters in this book are found on this link


This Documentary takes place in an small settlement in Mumbai behind the luxurious buildings, in the slum nearby by the airport. This is where Katherine Boo meets with people and connects with them.