I will confess that Indian culture is not one I know much about. I’m learning more, since I work with some wonderful people in Bangalore, but it is such a diverse and vibrant country.
When I saw that the Nerdfighters were reading Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, I jumped on the bandwagon, hoping to learn more about Mumbai and the Muslim side of Indian culture. What I got was a massive awakening to a very impoverished side of things. This is not the colorful Bollywood India we imagine here in America. Boo is writing about the slums and corrupted politics, collecting garbage for money, and attempted suicide. There is no pretty picture here.
I would love to say I connected deeply with the people Boo writes about, and the problems they face, that I was deeply moved by this book. But I wasn’t. I wanted to be, honestly, but I felt very disconnected. I think it is because the writing was very journalistic and disjointed for me. Sometimes it felt like a narrative, sometimes it was magazineish…I just didn’t really care for the style and it never really hooked me.
I think that it is a very important subject matter, and there is some good stuff here that people need to be aware of. I just don’t think it was as well done as it could have been. At least for someone not already informed or intune to that part of the world. Bring me into the heart of it, draw me in. I need to feel it.