Author(s): Imbolo Mbue
A powerful and timely story of marriage, class, race and the pursuit of the American Dream. Behold the Dreamers is a dazzling debut novel about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and of what we're prepared to sacrifice to hold on to each of them. ‘We all do what we gotta do to become American, abi?'New York, 2007: a city of dreamers and strivers, where the newly-arrived and the long-established jostle alike for a place on the ladder of success. And Jende Jonga, who has come from Cameroon, has just set his foot on the first rung.Clark Edwards is a senior partner at Lehman Brothers bank. In need of a discrete and reliable chauffeur, he is too preoccupied to closely check the paperwork of his latest employee.Jende's new job draws him, his wife Neni and their young son into the privileged orbit of the city's financial elite. And when Clark's wife Cindy offers Neni work and takes her into her confidence, the couple begin to believe that the land of opportunity might finally be opening up for them.But there are troubling cracks in their employers' facades, and when the deep fault lines running beneath the financial world are exposed, the Edwards' secrets threaten to spill out into the Jonga's lives.Faced with the loss of all they have worked for, each couple must decide how far they will go in pursuit of their dreams – and what they are prepared to sacrifice along the way.
'At once an ode to New York City and an elegy for the American Dream, Behold the Dreamers reads like a film: shuttling effortlessly between a Cameroonian chauffeur's Harlem and an investment banker's Upper East Side. This is a novel populated by characters so textured they feel like friends: an immigrant with big dreams and limited options; a banker desperate to do better than he's done; a mother, student and wife determined to express her humanity fully in the world. There are no heroes in this marvellous debut, only nuanced human beings. A classic tale with a surprise ending, as deeply insightful as it is delightfully entertaining' Taiye Selasi 'Realistic, tragic, and still remarkably kind to all its characters, this is a special book' Kirkus, Starred Review 'A beautiful novel 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, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Enrique's Journey '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 'Impeccably written, socially informed, in development by Sony Pictures, and an exemplar of the tremendous new writing emerging from Africa, Cameroon-born Mbue's is a big debut' Library Journal
Imbolo Mbue is a native of Limbe, Cameroon. She holds a BS from Rutgers University and an MA from Columbia University. A resident of the United States for more than a decade, she lives in New York City with her husband and children. This is her first novel.