I just finished reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers, a marvelous book by Katherine Boo. Katherine Boo spent 3 1/2 years living in a slum in Mumbai and has written a most beautifully written and moving account of the struggles and lives of the inhabitants of an Indian undercity. The book often reads like fiction, though it is not. Boo, her interpreters, and researchers were able to get very close to some of the slum dwellers depicted in the book. In doing so she gives an original perspective and voice to poverty that is primarily through her subjects eyes. I highly recommend this book.
"What was unfolding in Mumbai was unfolding elsewhere, too. In the age of global market capitalism, hopes and grievances were narrowly conceived, which blunted a sense of common predicament. Poor people didn't unite; they competed ferociously amongst themselves for gains as slender as they were provisional. And this undercity strife created only the faintest ripple in the fabric of society at large. The gates of the rich, occasionally rattled, remained unbreached. The politicians held forth on the middle class. The poor took down one another, and the world's great, unequal cities soldiered on in relative peace." - Katherine Boo