The City of Joy, written by Dominique Lapierre, is the true story of the residents of a Calcutta slum.
from the back of the book:
It's the bestseller that has lifted the hearts of millions, the true stories of living saints and heroes in one of the most crowded places on earth, the sector of Calcutta they call "the City of Joy." Here, amid terrible poverty, you'll share the joy and pain of everyday men and women who abandoned affluent and middle-class lives to dedicate themselves to the poor. And you'll be moved by the people of the City of Joy themselves...not only by their tragedies, but by the faith, generosity, and most of all, boundlass love that will touch you, bless you, and possibly change your life.
It is an inspiring story about people who live hopeful lives in the face of tuberculosis, leprosy, famine and flood and about people who leave lives of comfort to share the lives of these poorest of the poor.
This NYTimes review says:
''The City of Joy'' is about suffering, sorrow, cruelty and deprivation; about practicies so hideous as almost to suspend belief, though they are shockingly true. It is about filth, rags, wounds, disease, even leprosy. Repulsive words. Yet even more, the book is about other words that wonderfully leaven the whole: loyalty, kindness, tolerance, generosity, patience, endurance, acceptance, faith, even holiness. And it is about such love that we cannot pass by on the other side. In any case, it is too fascinating to allow us to do that.
The City of Joy is a Calcutta slum where more than 70,000 people congregate on ''ground hardly three times the size of a football field,'' a place of vermin-infested hovels and shanties, ''without a single flower, a butterfly, or a bird, apart from vultures and crows - it was a place where children did not even know what a bush, a forest or a pond was, where the air is so laden with carbon dioxide and sulphur that pollution killed at least one member in every family; a place where men and beasts baked in a furnace for the eight months of summer until the monsoon transformed their alleyways and shacks into lakes of mud and excrement.''