Behold the Dreamers: A Novel
- Publish Date: 2016-08-23
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: Imbolo Mbue
A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dreamâthe unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy
Winner of the PEN/Faulkner AwardÂ â¢ AÂ New York TimesÂ Notable BookÂ â¢ Longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award â¢ An ALA Notable Book
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BYÂ
NPRÂ â¢ The New York Times Book Review â¢Â San Francisco Chronicle â¢ The Guardian â¢ St. Louis Post-Dispatch â¢ Chicago Public Library â¢ BookPage â¢ Refinery29 â¢ Kirkus ReviewsÂ
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 loyaltyâand Jende is eager to please. Clarkâs wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardsesâ 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 employersâ faÃ§ades.
When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jendeâs jobâeven as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.
Praise for Behold the Dreamers
âA debut novel by a young woman from Cameroon that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse . . . Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller.ââThe Washington Post
âA capacious, big-hearted novel.ââThe New York Times Book Review
âBehold the DreamersâÂ heart . . . belongs to the struggles and small triumphs of the Jongas, which Mbue traces in clean, quick-moving paragraphs.ââEntertainment Weekly
âMbueâs writing is warm and captivating.ââPeople (book of the week)
â[Mbueâs] book isnât the first work of fiction to grapple with the global financial crisis of 2007â2008, but itâs surely one of the best. . . . Itâs a novel that depicts a country both blessed and doomed, on top of the world, but always at risk of losing its balance. It is, in other words, quintessentially American.ââNPR
âThis story is one that needs to be told.ââBustÂ
âBehold the Dreamers challenges us all to consider what it takes to make us genuinely content, and how long is too long to live with our dreams deferred.ââO: The Oprah Magazine
â[A] beautiful, empathetic novel.ââThe Boston Globe
âA witty, compassionate, swiftly paced novel that takes on race, immigration, family and the dangers of capitalist excess.ââSt. Louis Post-Dispatch
âMbue [is] a deft, often lyrical observer. . . . [Her] meticulous storytelling announces a writer in command of her gifts.ââMinneapolis Star Tribune