Below the Fold

From the Baltimore Brew crew, a behind-the-scenes look at what we do…

India’s poor children, Britain’s modern monarch

Just a note to tip Brew readers about an upcoming event by one of our sponsors, The Ivy Bookshop.

A representative from Random House publishers will be at the store showcasing their new books and offering pre-release copies of many of them. Among the two dozen books they’re promoting:

• Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, by Katherine Boo. The publisher calls this “landmark work of narrative nonfiction about families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great global cities: Mumbai, India.” Writing in the New York Times, reviewer Janet Maslin described the swampy slum on which thw riter focuses this way: “Half an acre. 335 huts. 3,000 people. And a concrete wall that is supposed to hide them from view: this is Annawadi.”

The Orphan Master’s Son, a novel by Adam Johnson set in North Korea. The main character Pak Jun Do, considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” rises in the ranks and becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive,” according to the publisher’s blurb.

Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch, by Sally Bedell Smith, is a biography of the woman “who ascended to the throne in 1952 at the age of 25,” and promises, according to the publisher’s blurb, “fresh insights drawn from unprecedented access to the Queen’s private letters, estates, and close associates into. . . Queen Elizabeth II’s professional and family relationships, especially with her husband of nearly 65 years, Prince Philip, her four headline-grabbing children, and her grandchildren, William and Harry.”

The event is being held at The Ivy Bookshop, 6080 Falls Road on Monday, Oct. 29, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. They ask for RSVP by phone (410-377-2966) or e-mail (info@theivybookshop.com).

From "Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity" (Photo credit: Random House)

From “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity” (Photo credit: Random House)

India’s poor children, Britain’s modern monarch
  • Usha nellore

    I used to walk through these slums. Believe me, when I say, no concrete wall can separate them from the rest of India. In India there is an inevitable confluence of the classes. Your gardener, your maid, your taxi driver or your chauffeur, your nurse, your postal delivery man, your vegetable vendor–people you cannot live without if you are one of the affluent or the middle class–may live in the slums. South Africa is the same way–go down to Cape Town and you will see rows upon rows of corrugated homes, ramshackle and dilapidated, dotting the landscape. These slums are called Cape Flats. Outside some of those homes you may see parked, high class cars–even a Mercedes Benz. There is a hierarchy in these slums– self appointed kings and queens, page boys, story tellers, famous cooks, feared gangbangers, petty thieves and rapscallions and marvelous orators. And the weddings within the Indian slums–so also the funerals– are events to behold and savor. They are no less ostentatious than a rich man’s wedding or funeral. The poor are known to pledge their lives for money to marry off their daughters in style. Look at the colorful clothes that hang on the clothesline. Look beyond the dust, the squalor and the stray dog. Look into the face of the young boy in his throwaway chair. He is absolute king in his impecunious kingdom–master of all he surveys. He is clearly in charge and he is no man’s footstool. That’s what I know about the slums of India. The people within those slums are fast, furious and funny. They are folks to reckon with. They can defeat the soft bellied rich man any day in arguments, many know their rights and will argue for those rights, many are organized into unions, and if you test their patience they will strike. I have a deep respect for the people of the Indian slums.

    • Teresa

      Wow, great comment.