Reviews for Behind the Beautiful Forevers : Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

AudioFile Reviews 2012 March
This four-year study of the residents of Annawadi, a shack-town slum outside Mumbai, focuses on specific families, detailing the near-impossibility for upward mobility. The book starts with a pivotal moment, goes back to set up the drama, and then moves forward, making this a challenging audiobook. Listeners initially have difficulty sorting out events and people and, as the story takes shape, can't easily review earlier sections to refresh their memories. In addition, Sunil Malhotra's stilted narration distances listeners emotionally from this heartbreaking look at the vast inequalities in opportunity and the fulfillment of basic human needs in modern India. Malhotra's characterizations lack the finesse that listeners who are unfamiliar with Indian names and jargon need to track the individual stories. The literary quality of the prose is masked by these issues. C.B.L. (c) AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine