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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Metro scene in Mumbai

"The result [of Boo's reporting] is a searing account, in effective and racy prose, that reads like a thrilling novel but packs a punch Sinclair Lewis might have envied. . . The raw pathos to the stories of the characters in Behind the Beautiful Forevers is of the kind usually found in great fiction, except that, as Boo confirms, they are all real, down to their names."

Shashi Tharoor, Washington Post

"Novelists dream of defining characters this swiftly and beautifully, but Ms. Boo is not a novelist. She is one of those rare, deep-digging journalists who can make truth surpass fiction, a documentarian with a superb sense of human drama. She makes it very easy to forget that this book is the work of a reporter."

Janet Maslin, New York Times

"Deploying spare, unadorned prose, Boo throws the slum-dwellers into such sharp relief that, reading the book, one has the sense of seeing them at first hand. This is a trick of the writing that succeeds because of Boo's style – the word "I" is absent from the narrative – and focus on a clutch of Annawadi's residents. The combination – the invisible reporter, the disciplined gaze – marks this book out from the recent crop of non-fiction about those on the margins of modern India."

Nikhil Kumar, The Independent

"[The characters'] actions, however vicious or shortsighted, are rendered comprehensible by the wellsprings of motivation to be found within their own words, and by the depth of Boo's descriptions. Although she never precisely explains how people could reach a state where the death of a child is neither noteworthy nor tragic, her reporting allows for us to reach our own conclusions. Boo's presence is skillfully invisible, so that the reader recalls her only when wondering, admiringly, how she was able to document the extraordinary story that she tells."

Isaac Chotiner, The New Republic

"Boo is unsentimental, unjudgemental, uncondescending, yet brimful of compassion brought about by what I can only call fellowship or a kind of commonality with her subjects. It is not a hand-wringingly angry book; she has moved beyond it, assimilating the anger into moral energy and pressing it into the service of – I keep returning to this term – unflinching truth-telling."

Neel Mukherjee, author, A Life Apart