Mbue’s eloquent debut novel takes the timeless story of immigrants coming to the U.S. in search of a better life and plants it in a particularly difficult historical moment.
The 2008 economic crisis was a hard time for the American Dream, and when Jende and Neni Jonga arrive in New York from Cameroon late in 2007, they initially feel fortunate to find work with the family of a Wall Street executive. But their employer works for Lehman Brothers, and the Jongas learn hard truths about the socio-economic realities of their new country.
This event is supported by Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C.’s premier independent bookstore and cultural hub. Find out more about Politics & Prose here.
The novel is on sale on August 23rd, and will be available for purchase at the event ($28.00).
A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy
Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers facades.
When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.
Advance praise for “Behold the Dreamers”
Imbolo Mbue would be a formidable storyteller anywhere, in any language. It’s our good luck that she and her stories are American. Jonathan Franzen, National Book Award-winning author of “Purity”and “Freedom”
Dazzling, fast-paced, and exquisitely written, “Behold the Dreamers” is one of those rare novels that will change the way you see the world. Imbolo Mbue is a breathtaking talent. Christina Baker Kline, #1 “New York Times “bestselling author of “Orphan Train”
Who is this Imbolo Mbue and where has she been hiding? Her writing is startlingly beautiful, thoughtful, and both timely and timeless. She’s taking on everything from family to the Great Recession to immigration while deftly reminding us what it means to truly believe in the American dream. Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award winning author of “Brown Girl Dreaming”and “Another Brooklyn”
It’s rare that a book is so fascinating, so emotionally compelling, and so beautiful that I literally can t put it down. I picked “Behold the Dreamers” up one evening before bed. I turned the last page at dawn. It ruined the next day for me I wasn t much good for anything but a nap but it was worth every lost hour. Ayelet Waldman, “New York Times “bestselling author of” Love and Treasure”
A beautiful book about one African couple starting a new life in a new land, “Behold the Dreamers” will teach you as much about the promise and pitfalls of life in the United States as about the immigrants who come here in search of the so-called American dream. Sonia Nazario, author of “Enrique’s Journey “and” “winner of the Pulitzer Prize
Among the spate of novels forged in the crucible of the previous decade, Mbue’s impressive debut deserves a singular place. . . . Realistic, tragic, and still remarkably kind to all its characters, this is a special book. ” Kirkus” “Reviews” (starred review)