by Katherine Boo, author of the forthcoming Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity (Random House, February 2012).
As jobs and capital whip around the planet, college students will graduate into a world where economic instability and social inequality are increasing and geographic boundaries matter less and less. Unfortunately, globalization and social inequality remain two of the most over-theorized, under-reported issues of our age. My book is an intimate investigative account of how this volatile new reality affects the young people of an Indian slum called Annawadi. Like young people elsewhere, the Annawadians are trying to figure out their place in a world where temp jobs are becoming the norm, adaptability is everything, and bewildering change is the one abiding constant.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers took me three hard years to report, and one thought that sustained me was that I had a unique opportunity to show American readers that the distance between themselves and, say, a teenaged boy in Mumbai who finds an entrepreneurial niche in other people’s garbage, is not nearly as great as they might think. In the two decades I’ve spent writing about poverty and how people get out of it, I’ve come to believe, viscerally, Continue reading