2012 National Book Award For Non-Fiction: Small Stories Matter

Click the image of the book to the right to read about it.  Click here for a podcast interview with Katherine Boo, which we first heard earlier this year. At that time, for several of us non-Indians living in Kerala, the story Boo told in the interview was fiercely captivating — we live small stories of India’s humanity every day.

It was also something else: many non-Indians who we hope will visit India (for reasons we try to make plain every day on this site) are already so saturated with images of India’s poverty that we are inclined to talk about anything but poverty.

And yet, this book is too important to not shout about it from the roof top. Coverage in the New York Times of the National Book Awards ceremony contained the following (midway through the article):

…The nonfiction category was every bit as competitive and featured established authors like the biographer Robert Caro and the late Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Shadid, who wrote for The Washington Post and The New York Times.

It was won by Katherine Boo for “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.” In her book, Ms. Boo tells of the heart-rending struggles of the dwellers of a slum in the shadow of luxury hotels in India.

“If this prize means anything,” she said in her acceptance speech, “it is that small stories in so-called hidden places matter because they implicate and complicate what we consider to be the larger story, which is the story of people who do have political and economic powers.”…

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