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Investigative journalist Katherine Boo to discuss life in Indian slums

Monday, September 15, 2014

LAWRENCE — Katherine Boo, staff writer at The New Yorker and a former reporter and editor for The Washington Post, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16, in Woodruff Auditorium, Kansas Union. Her lecture, "Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity," is the first installment of the Hall Center for the Humanities' 2014-2015 Humanities Lecture Series. The event is free and open to the public.

Boo will also participate in an informal conversation session the next day. “A Conversation with Katherine Boo” will take place at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 17, in the Hall Center Conference Hall. Audience members are invited to pose questions to Boo and advance topics that may not have been touched upon in the previous night’s session. This event is also free and open to the public.

In her book "Behind the Beautiful Forevers," global change and inequality is given a human face through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport. Boo carries the reader headlong into one of the 21st century's hidden worlds and into the lives of people impossible to forget. Her work gives deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change.

Boo spent more than three years in the Annawadi slum that is at the heart of the book to conduct research and interview residents. In her time there, she came to understand both the crushing poverty and the hopes and aspirations of the residents.

Over the years, Boo’s reporting from disadvantaged communities has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur "Genius" grant and a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing. "Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity" was a smash New York Times best-seller and is the recipient of the National Book Award in Nonfiction and a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Stephen Greenblatt, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Mary Oliver. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule. For information on the series, visit the Hall Center website.

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