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A Conversation with Katherine Boo

SC Spectrum and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences present

Katherine Boo comes to USC to discuss her work as an author. 

Katherine Boo is one of the foremost journalists working today. She is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur Grant, as well as a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing.

 Boo graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College and learned to report at the alternative weekly Washington City Paper, after which she worked as a writer and co-editor of The Washington Monthly magazine. From 1993 to 2002, she was a reporter for the Washington Post, eventually spending a large part of her tenure as an editor. In 2002, Boo received her MacArthur fellowship, and has worked as a New Yorker staff writer since 2003. One of her New Yorker articles, "The Marriage Cure," was awarded the 2004 National Magazine Award for Feature Writing. This article focused on state-sponsored efforts to teach poor people in an Oklahoma community about marriage, aiming to help their students avoid or escape poverty. Another of Boo's New Yorker articles, "After Welfare," won the 2002 Sidney Hillman Award, which honors articles that advance the cause of social justice. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2000 for writing a series in the Washington Post about mentally-challenged people in an effort that Pulitzer judges lauded for its disclosure of wretched neglect and abuse in the citys group homes for the mentally retarded. Her work prompted officials to reform the harrowing conditions within these homes. Boo spent two years documenting and investigating the lives of the residents of Annawadi, the slum community depicted in her book Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Her level of commitment to the project meant enduring the horrible conditions in which the Annawadi natives lived, including rat infestations, exposure to raw sewage and chemicals, and rampant tuberculosis.   Boo and her husband, Sunil, currently split their time between New York and India. Behind the Beautiful Forevers is her first book.