Katherine Boo on Life and Death in a Mumbai Undercity

6 August 2012

On Monday Sydney Ideas will present Katherine Boo, Pulitzer prize winner and writer with The New Yorker, discussing her acclaimed first book, produced during three years of intense research at Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in Mumbai.

Located in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, Annawadi has been described as "an all-India mash-up of caste, ethnicity, faith, and language". In her debut narrative non-fiction book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, she tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the world's most lively but also most treacherous cities.

Katherine is a proponent of 'immersion' or 'documentary' journalism, where the journalist lives with subject. A staff writer for The New Yorker, she has spent the last 20 years reporting from within poor communities, considering how societies distribute opportunity and how individuals get out of poverty. She writes to give an "unsentimental, rigorously reported account of how government policy or market forces affect lives and prospects on the so-called ground".

For Sydney Ideas Katherine will be in conversation with University of Sydney anthropologist Dr Sheleyah Courtney. They will discuss the practice of immersion journalism, daily life in an Indian slum, corruption and economic mobility in modern India, and much more.

Katherine Boo is a staff writer for The New Yorker. She learnt to report at the Washington City Paper, was an editor of the Washington Monthly and, for nearly a decade, a reporter and editor at The Washington Post. Her reporting has been honoured by a MacArthur Fellowship, a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, and the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Behind the Beautiful Forevers is her first book.

Dr Sheleyah Courtney lectures in social anthropology at the University of Sydney. She teaches on Indian society, culture, religion and politics, as well as related subjects of gender, migration, media and popular culture. Her research over the past fourteen years has been among marginalised and impoverished women of Varanasi, a holy city in North India.

Event details

What:Life and Death in a Mumbai Undercity, a Sydney Ideas event featuring Katherine Boo in conversation with Sheleyah Courtney

When: 6pm, Monday 6 August

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. See map and directions

Cost: This event is free and open to all, with no ticket or booking required. Seating is unreserved and entry is on a first come, first served basis

Contact: Kath Kenny

Phone: 02 9351 1584, 0478 303 173

Email: 3f17180a623821040b4c0f380322342d365e3631315e1b39