Katherine Boo

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Katherine Boo
Katherine boo 4180016.jpg
Boo in 2018
Born (1964-08-12) August 12, 1964 (age 58)
Alma materBarnard College, William & Mary
OccupationInvestigative Journalist
Known forPulitzer Prize for Public Service;
MacArthur Fellow,
National Book Award for Nonfiction
SpouseSunil Khilnani

Katherine "Kate" J. Boo (born August 12, 1964) is an American investigative journalist who has documented the lives of people in poverty. She has won the MacArthur "genius" award (2002) and the National Book Award for Nonfiction (2012), and her work earned the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for The Washington Post. She has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 2003. Her book Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity won nonfiction prizes from PEN, the Los Angeles Times Book Awards, the New York Public Library, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in addition to the National Book Award for Nonfiction.


Boo grew up in and near Washington, D.C., and attended the College of William and Mary for two years and transferred to Barnard and then graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College of Columbia University. She is married to Sunil Khilnani, a professor of politics and history at Ashoka University, India.


Boo began her career in journalism with writing and editing positions at Washington's City Paper and then the Washington Monthly. From there she went to The Washington Post, where she worked from 1993 to 2003, first as an editor of the Outlook section and then as an investigative reporter.

In 2000, The Washington Post received the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for Boo's 1999 series about group homes for intellectually disabled people. The Pulitzer judges noted that her work "disclosed wretched neglect and abuse in the city's group homes for the intellectually disabled, which forced officials to acknowledge the conditions and begin reforms."[1]

In 2003, she joined the staff of The New Yorker, to which she had been contributing since 2001.[2] One of her subsequent New Yorker articles, "The Marriage Cure,"[3] won the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing in 2004. The article chronicled state-sponsored efforts to teach poor people in an Oklahoma community about marriage in hopes that such classes would help their students avoid or escape poverty.

Another of Boo's New Yorker articles, "After Welfare",[4] won the 2002 Sidney Hillman Award, which honors articles that advance the cause of social justice.[5]

In 2002, Boo was a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. She won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002.[6][7][8] She was also a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in 2010.[9]

In 2012, Random House published Boo's first book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, a non-fiction account of life in the Annawadi slums of Mumbai, India.[10] It won the annual National Book Award for Nonfiction on November 14, 2012.[11]

In 2022, Boo served as a judge for the American Mosaic Journalism Prize.[12]



  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. New York City: Random House (February 7, 2012). ISBN 978-1-4000-6755-8


  1. ^ a b "The 2000 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Public Service". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-11-01. With reprints of 20 works (articles published by The Washington Post from March 14 to December 22, 1999).
  2. ^ "Katherine Boo: Contributors". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2003-08-18.
  3. ^ "The Marriage Cure". The New Yorker. August 18, 2003.
  4. ^ "After Welfare". The New Yorker. April 9, 2001. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  5. ^ "After Welfare". The Hillman Foundation. 23 June 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
  6. ^ "MacArthur Fellows, September 2002". John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Archived from the original on 2010-10-12.
  7. ^ "Applications". American Academy in Berlin. Archived from the original on 2012-03-11. Retrieved 2012-03-10.
  8. ^ "Katherine Boo – Haniel Fellow, Class of Spring 2007". American Academy in Berlin. Retrieved 2012-03-10.
  9. ^ "Katherine Boo". www.wiko-berlin.de. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  10. ^ Maslin, Janet (January 30, 2012). "All They Hope for Is Survival". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
  11. ^ a b Leslie Kaufman (November 14, 2012). "Novel About Racial Injustice Wins National Book Award". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  12. ^ "2022 Judges". Heising-Simons Foundation. 10 February 2022. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  13. ^ Alison Flood (October 5, 2012). "Six books to 'change our view of the world' on shortlist for non-fiction prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
  14. ^ "Graduation - Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism". Archived from the original on 2013-01-22. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
  15. ^ Carolyn Kellogg (August 14, 2013). "Jacket Copy: PEN announces winners of its 2013 awards". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-08-14.

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