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Roses in Annawadi
February 24, 2012 2:01 AM   Subscribe

Between Roses in Mumbai.

The New Yorker's Katherine Boo has just published her book about life and death in the Mumbai slum Annawadi after three years spent researching there. This is an extract published in the New York Review of Books. Reviews by Pankaj Mishra (NYT), Girish Shahane (Caravan Magazine). An interview with the author from Outlook India.
posted by tavegyl (8 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Everything around us is roses, and we’re the shit in between."

Well that was a great read. I didn't twig that it was just an excerpt and was initially a bit disappointed by the ending. I guess I'll have to buy the book now :)
posted by omnikron at 4:20 AM on February 24, 2012


Is this Mumbai week or the Indian Extravaganza Month? Not complaining, just sayin'
posted by infini at 5:18 AM on February 24, 2012


Spatchcock is an excellent word. Immediately visually evocative even when I'd never heard it before.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:58 AM on February 24, 2012


I am really looking forward to reading this, based on the reviews and excerpts I have seen. One of the articles I read (not one linked in the FPP, as far as I can tell) had an interesting backstory involving the author's health and its impact on her decision to take on this project. Found it:
Since her late teens Ms. Boo, who is now 47, has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and several related immunological disorders. She walks a little slowly and sometimes has trouble with her eyes. Her fingers are gnarled and bent. That she is still able to type is owing in large part to a 2002 MacArthur grant, which helped pay for surgery on her right hand.

For someone in her condition the best treatment is drugs that suppress the immune system, and these do not make such a person an ideal candidate for spending time in a slum where tuberculosis is practically epidemic. But one night Ms. Boo tripped over an unabridged dictionary in her own apartment, puncturing a lung and breaking three ribs, and decided home wasn’t much safer. “I thought if I don’t work, I’m risking my mental health,” she said.
posted by Forktine at 6:15 AM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Been wanting to do a post on this, but had been stuck on the book. :) Read Shahane's review on his blog and in Caravan, and went on to buy the (e-)book. Been a brilliant read so far!

The thing that struck me the most was, apart from the God Of Small Things-isque this-changes-everything moment, is that these folks aren't considered to be below the poverty line under governmental statistics; they're actually ahead of the curve from the teeming millions who still live with twenty rupees a day. There's actually a section where the lead characters discuss why this Mumbaiyya slum was more desirable than their "native place", to use an Ind-glish phrase. Staggering, just staggering.
posted by the cydonian at 6:38 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing that struck me the most was, apart from the God Of Small Things-isque this-changes-everything moment, is that these folks aren't considered to be below the poverty line under governmental statistics; they're actually ahead of the curve from the teeming millions who still live with twenty rupees a day.

That struck me too. That and how Mirchi wants to work in a hotel. I'd never though about it before, but of course the idea of working in an air-conditioned building and always wearing clean clothes must be extraordinarily pleasant to someone from a family of garbage merchants.
posted by atrazine at 9:44 AM on February 24, 2012


In 2006, Rang De Basanti, the film that inspired a wave of activism across India, was not nominated for an Academy award. Water, a film about the fucked up lives of widows in the 30's, had been nominated the year before. Someone asked Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, RDB's director, what he thought about that. He said (paraphrasing) well, stories like Water, those are the kinds of stories Westerners like to see about us.

I always think about that, whenever I read about the poor-and-fucked of India on the blue. Is that true? Is that true of me?
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 8:22 PM on February 24, 2012


I think its part of the greater messaging currently prevalent in the English language media. It has changed quite a bit in the past 5 years alone, particularly for India and China but still in full force for Africa.
posted by infini at 11:52 PM on February 24, 2012


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