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During her tenure at three of Washington’s biggest publications between the 1980s and early ’00s—City Paper, the Monthly, and the Post—Katherine Boo turned out spellbinding stories of the city’s underclass, from abuse at group homes for the mentally disabled (a series that earned her a Pulitzer Prize) to the real-life effects of welfare reform, with the muscle of an investigative reporter and a novelist’s finesse. For her work at the New Yorker, she’s earned the profession’s top honors, racking up a National Magazine Award and a Sidney Hillman Award. So it only makes sense that Boo’s first book, an epic work of reporting and storytelling that follows residents of a slum outside Mumbai through an economic collapse, would be among the most breathlessly praised debuts of the year: Former New York Times executive editor Joseph Lelyveld called Behind the Beautiful Forevers “the best piece of reporting to come out of India in a half century at least.” Get the first edition now—it might be valuable someday.
Katherine Boo discusses and signs her book at 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose Bookstore, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. politics-prose.com. (202) 364-1919.