Journalist Katherine Boo speaks on time in India


Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo speaks about her book, "Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity" during her talk Thursday at Alumni Hall in the Indiana Memorial Union. Emily Weinstein and Emily Weinstein

Award winning journalist and author Katherine Boo spoke to students and faculty Thursday evening at Alumni Hall in the Indiana Memorial Union.

The Kelley School of Business Common Read Program, the Media School and the College Arts and Humanities Institute hosted the event.

Boo’s presentation illustrated her experiences in investigative reporting in Mumbai, along with an in depth look at her book, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” which was awarded the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2012.

Boo is currently a staff writer for the New Yorker and has previously worked as a reporter and editor for the Washington Post, Washington City Paper and Washington Monthly.

She has has been a recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and the ?MacArthur Genius Grant for her journalism and creative skills, respectively.

“I was excited to hear her perspective on what it was like for her as a journalist in Mumbai,” Allison Frazier , Kelley student engagement manager said. “In her book she spoke about the experiences of the people in Mumbai but never spoke of her own.”

Boo’s views as a journalist heavily emphasize the role of today’s youth for the future.

“There are so many issues out there, and the hope is with today’s students,” she said. “My generation threw all these problems into the world, and it’s up to you (students) to fix them.”

Throughout her presentation, Boo shared stories of the individuals in Mumbai compared to those of Americans. One of the largest differences between the two cultures, Boo said, was their outlook on life.

“Young people in urban India are more optimistic about their futures,” Boo said. “Many of them were thinking, choosing and acting sometimes with astonishing imagination. The youth in the United States is more restricted. Students searching for jobs are on a wilder ride than their parents had.”

Boo also captivated the audience with detailed incidents from her book.

“I enjoyed the story she told of when her and her translator were carrying around thousands of dollars of equipment,” journalism student Matthew Weisman said. “She described how the kids around her could have easily stolen the equipment and made a fortune for themselves, yet they didn’t because of their appreciation for her. The power she held as the woman who was there for them was what they c herished.”

As the event came to a close, the audience was offered the chance to ask Boo questions. One audience member asked why she decided to leave her personal experiences out of her book.

“I want you to be with Abdul when you read,” Boo said. “I don’t want you thinking about the reporter. You won’t find people here like them.”


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