Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: "Author's Note"

[Behind the Beautiful Forevers]

In the “Author’s Note” of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo provides readers with her background and describes how she developed her passion for Annawadi. She details how she interviewed, surveyed, and interpreted the lives of each person highlighted in the book.

Boo writes “While I spent time in other slums for comparative purposes, I chose to focus on Annawadi for two reasons: because of the sense of possibility there, as wealth encroached on every side, and because its scale was small enough to allow door-to-door household surveys – the vagrant sociology approach. The surveys helped me start to differentiate between isolated problems and widely shared ones, like the disenfranchisement of Annawadi’s migrants and hijras” (407).

What idea from the "Author's Note" fascinated you most? Why or how so? Provide page citation please.

--Kacee Aldridge

20 comments:

Shervonti Norman said...

What fascinated me the most is how Katherine Boo got all of this information her self. It fascinates me that she was able to learn about the various characters' lives by being there to experience a part of their lives with them. This means that she was probably feeling the grief (or lack of grief) from the other individuals as some of them took their own lives and others were murdered. One part that really jumped out to me was the last line of page 417, "and Sunil Khilnani, my love, my better world" because not only did Katherine Boo work with these various individuals to create a story, she ended up with someone permanently. She feel in love in Annawadi.

Mercdes H said...

What i found most fascinating was the fact that Boo had "witnessed most of the events described in the book" (pg 408) such as "the account of the hours leading up to Fatima Shaikh's self immolation." (408, 409) It's fascinating that Boo went through most of the events that she wrote about and had the ability to capture it all so well.

Jacqueline C. said...

In the "Author's Note," I was most fascinated by the idea of corruption (411). Children have to grow up fast and make a living in society because they have to take care of their families.Also, the lifespan of young children seems cut short and they don't get to live to see adulthood.Finding a way to live life fully comes across as a challenge for the Annawadians.

Kayleigh E. said...

The part in the Author's Note that interested me the most was that everyone Katherine Boo spoke to, didn't mind her hanging around. They all just let her ask question after question and get their life stories. She said on page 410 "When I wasn't dredging up bad memories, they liked me fine." They cared about the message she was trying to convey with her book, so they put up with her.

Brianna B said...

Like Jacqueline, I found the idea of corruption (411) interesting, it really brings home the idea of just how different someone's life can be just because of the situation around them. Just that Boo was able to capture this and turn it into a story that can touch the lives of so many is so fascinating.

C. S. said...

Pg 409

I admire Boo’s desire for truth and thus relying on the children as “adults”.

Many journalist seek truth in the issues of the world (economic, political, religious, etc) by speaking to adults. Which seems fair since they have years of wisdom. However, that wisdom is also coupled with opinions and deceit often. Thus, she understands that the people of Annwandi have opinions but found the children to have objective thoughts due to their age. Rather than ignoring them or thinking their age inhibits them, she uses them just as much as the adults.

Chante S

Sandra N said...

What I found interesting is the reason why Katherine Boo wanted to write this book and how she went about getting the information she needed. She said "I had felt a shortage in nonfiction about India" (403) and she wanted to do something about the problem. I liked that she did not right this book based on statistics and information that other people had gathered. She went outside her comfort zone and met the natives and listened to their stories to be able to better portray them in the book. The use of multiple translators gave her the ability to get to know the slum dwellers through the eye of various Idian natives.

Alexandra J said...

In the Author's Note, I found that it was most interesting that the children were viewed as the most dependable witnesses. While reading I never really thought about it but as she points out their indifference to politics, economics and religious beliefs of their elders it makes a lot of sense. (p 409)

Natalie Thompson said...

What was fascinating to me was that Katherine witness everything that she wrote about in this book. From the corruption of the government to the slumdwellers digging through trash to feed their families, all of it was real.(409) Katherine states how some slumdwellers recalibrated their stories out of fear of angering the authorities. I am really glad I was able to read this book and experience the life of other people from other countries.

Conradette King said...

I thought that the fact that she interviewed and survyed the subjects of her work was really interesting. It took alot of courage to up and leave the comfort of her life to experience the the events of the people of the Annawadi. I thought it was really interesting that she witnessed most of the events described in the book(pg 408-409).

Joi M said...

I enjoyed the fact the recognized the way India was portrayed in fiction stories & she used that to write her own nonfiction from someone who experienced it. I think that this is very necessary because people often only get a westernized view of different issues instead of the point of view of people actually living and experiencing things.

Anonymous said...

What interested me the most was her decision to write more about children in Annawadi. I found this more intriguing because we would often get to see the innocence of children in to slums. While there lives were hard and a constant struggle against the obstacles of the world, the children took both the harsh reality and the hopefulness of the future.

Marta A.

Candace P said...

The idea within the "Author's Note" that fascinated me the most was Katherine Boo stating, "I witnessed most of the events described in this book. I reported other events shortly after they occurred, using interviews and documents" (408). Aside from the fact that Boo ensured to have repeated interviews with people, she also utilized records from various businesses and departments to make her points within Behind the Beautiful Forevers stronger.

Andrea R. said...

What I found fascinating was the great length she went to in order to give an accurate depiction of life in the slums of India. In most cases, authors may get a few interviews and documents from public records and then go about writing but she used more than three thousand public records (405) in order to validate what slumdwellers had already told her.

jessica oranika said...

What I found the most interesting is that Boo got all of the information herself and witnessed firsthand the things that these slum dwellers had to live with. I was especially surprised at how forthcoming the people were with their information. There was no air of secrecy and the people were fine with boo "dredging up" their bad memories.(pg410)

Jacquelene G said...


The idea that fascinated me the most about the “Author’s Note” was on pages 412-413. Here she talks about how the children of Annawadi have been so accustomed to poor conditions and watching others die or be harmed that it has become normal. It was interesting to me because before I read on, I wondered what the reason behind this iciness was. The author brings up the fact that some argue that it’s, because they believed in reincarnation, but she felt it was due to how corrupt the government was. The government discouraged helping other’s because it could mean harm for their families. So, the poor did not rely on each other and even attempt to try and help one another. On the reason for the issue I side with the author’s explanation.

Jac`quelene G

Jenee B. said...

What fascinated me the most was how the author realized that the problems of the people in the slums went far beyond their own control. The answer to their problems was not simply to get a job or education, instead the infrastructure of the country was working against them. No matter how hard some of the people worked to get out of poverty, the government and society would keep them there.

Ashya Ford said...

I found the Author's Note to be very interesting, as she described why she chose this to explore. MY fascination was with her dedication to develop the story of the slums of India as she discussed on p.403. It was amazing how deep she went to follow the story and how get it ass accurate as she could I also found it interesting that she wanted this story to be told and for the world to have a sense or an insight into some of the lives in India.

Anitra B. said...

What I found most interesting was that Katherine witnessed a lot of the things that happened in the book (408) and got all of the information herself. I knew that the book was nonfiction, but after reading people tell their story I'm just shocked at some of the things that went on. It just shows how different things are in some parts of the world. I was also fascinated with how she also told the children's stories. I thought that this was great that she got their stories because they are also there witnessing what is going, and Katherine didn't use their age as an excuse to dismiss what they were saying.

Kiara Gay said...

The thing that fascinated me the most was the fact that Boo had witnessed a lot of these things herself p.408. This is interesting to me because even though the book is about a bunch of people who live in a slum and believe they are nobodies, Katherine taking the time to write a novel about then and sharing their story to others is a great accomplishment for the lives of those who live in Annawabi, and even though they may not realize it they have their own beautiful forevers .