Last night, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo won the National Book Award in the nonfiction category for her first book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. We weren’t surprised at all by the win — Forevers is a stunning, must-read account of life in Annawadi, a Mumbai slum where unbelievable atrocities are an everyday occurence. Upon the book’s publication in February of this year, EW’s Jeff Giles predicted Boo’s book would be “a conversation starter, an award winner.” After a night of celebrating, Boo took the time to talk to EW about what it means for a difficult book like hers to win a major award — but before we could get into any of that, she had to get this out of the way: “I really like Annie Barrett’s American Idol recaps. They were like my therapy. I’d be tense over writing my book, and I was like, ‘I need to read Annie Barrett.’”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You were up against some legendary authors in your category. Were you shocked to win?
KATHERINE BOO: I was surprised. I thought it would be Robert Caro [for Passage of Power]. And I think that Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain is a great book and Anthony Shadid, for anybody who is writing overseas, is a legend. So I was quite surprised. It’s a whole thing where you’re supposed to write a speech in case you win, and I thought that was kind of lame. [Laughs] I couldn’t do that. I was sitting there realizing, “Oh gosh, I should have written a speech.” READ FULL STORY »