Biography of Katherine Boo

Katherine Boo is an award-winning investigative journalist who has spent a large part of her career documenting the lives and journies of people living in poverty. Before starting work on Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Boo investigated communities in the United States, but after meeting and falling in love with her now-husband Sunil Khilnani, she became interested in the obstacles faced by people in his home country of India.

Boo grew up around Washington, D.C. and is an alumnus of Barnard College at Columbia University in the City of New York, where she graduated summa cum laude. After college, Boo worked for news publications in D.C., ultimately landing at The Washington Post, where she earned the publication the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for her series on group homes for mentally handicapped people which, according to the Pulitzer board, exposed "wretched neglect and abuse in the city's group homes ... which forced officials to acknowledge the conditions and begin reforms."

Boo's work has a history of engaging with important policy concerns, and her platform is such that officials are actually compelled to address the policy concerns she writes about. In 2002, she won the Sidney Hillman Award for social justice journalism for her New Yorker piece, "After Welfare," which focused on a housing development on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. She was a recipient of the MacArthur "genius" grant in the same year, and two years later won the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing for her exposé of state-sponsored efforts to encourage marriage as a form of economic mobility in Oklahoma schools.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers is Boo's first book, and it won the 2012 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

Study Guides on Works by Katherine Boo