Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
It is hard to believe that people work and go to school while living in shacks on the outskirts of a major international airport on land that the airport could clear (the airport in Mumbai does own the land) at any time. These shacks are hidden behind signs for flooring which claims to be “beautiful forever.” It is in this small slum, home to hundreds of people, the author spent three years of her life. She interviewed the residents and went through local records trying to determine how their lives have changed since India has entered the global economy.
At the heart of this story is the suicide of a woman. She accused the family next door of provoking her to set herself on fire. (She didn’t immediately die from her wounds.) A trial is set against three members of that family in the local court.
How people exist from day to day and hope to better their lives, the options open to slum dwellers (and those paths which are not) and the way the city works (corruption, the courts, etc.) are all portrayed in this book which reads like investigative journalism and narrative at once.
Absolutely perfect on audio. The accents really put you into India and give such flavor to the narrative.