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Discussion Questions for Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Our staff readers have prepared this list of discussion questions for those reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. We hope you will pick up this inspiring book and join the conversation!

Discussion Questions for Behind the Beautiful Forevers

PTPI's Global Book Club Bookshelf
1. “In India, a land of few safe assumptions, chronic uncertainty was said to have helped produce a nation of quick-witted, creative problem solvers. Among the poor, it was no surprise that instability fostered ingenuity, but over time the lack of a link between effort and result could become debilitating.” (p. 219) What is your reaction to this quote and the thought that ingenuity will continue to go unrewarded or fail to bring about result?

2. In the author’s note, Boo writes “It is easy, from a safe distance, to overlook the fact that in under-cities governed by corruption, where exhausted people vie on scant terrain for very little, it is blisteringly hard to be good. The astonishment is that some people are good, and that many people try to be…” Was the idea one that struck you as you were reading? And if so, in what way?

3. Do you feel that you would be able to maintain your sense of morality in a similar set of circumstances?

4. What was your reaction to the levels of corruption present in India that were made evident by the book’s description of daily life?

5. What are your views on “slum tourism” or tourism that involves visiting very poor areas? Would you want to visit Annawadi or somewhere similar?

6. Were there any images that formed in your mind based on Boo’s descriptions and stayed there after finishing the book? Any particular element of life that deeply affected you?

7. What was your reaction to the gender roles present in Annawadi?

8. Does Behind the Beautiful Forevers contain elements of an indictment of the work of development organizations?

9. How do you feel about the way Boo presented the realities of daily life in Annawadi? Do you see any benefits to her approach?

People to People International’s Global Book Club is a way to connect with your global community. Global Book Club members communicate about valuable, international topics and gain unique insight and understanding of various cultural views in relation to those topics. For more information on People to People International, visit www.ptpi.org or PTPI’s Facebook Page

The opinions expressed by PTPI staff and other book club members are entirely their own and are not necessarily the views of  PTPI or its Officers, Board of Directors and Board of Trustees.
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