Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club)

A Novel

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

New York Times Bestseller • Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award • Longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award • An ALA Notable Book

NPR • The New York Times Book Review • San Francisco Chronicle • The Guardian • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Chicago Public Library • BookPage • Refinery29 • Kirkus Reviews

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' façades.

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.

Praise for Behold the Dreamers

"A 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."-The Washington Post

"A capacious, big-hearted novel."-The New York Times Book Review

"Behold the Dreamers' heart . . . belongs to the struggles and small triumphs of the Jongas, which Mbue traces in clean, quick-moving paragraphs."-Entertainment Weekly

"Mbue's writing is warm and captivating."-People (book of the week)

"[Mbue's] book isn't the first work of fiction to grapple with the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, but it's surely one of the best. . . . It's 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."-NPR

"This story is one that needs to be told."-Bust

"Behold 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."-O: The Oprah Magazine

"[A] beautiful, empathetic novel."-The Boston Globe

"A witty, compassionate, swiftly paced novel that takes on race, immigration, family and the dangers of capitalist excess."-St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Mbue [is] a deft, often lyrical observer. . . . [Her] meticulous storytelling announces a writer in command of her gifts."-Minneapolis Star Tribune
Imbolo Mbue is a native of the seaside town 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.

Behold the Dreamers, her critically acclaimed debut novel, won the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was named by The New York Times and The Washington Post as one of the notable books of 2016. It was also named as a best book of 2016 by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The novel also won the 2017 Blue Metropolis Words to Change Prize.
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Einband gebundene Ausgabe
Seitenzahl 400
Erscheinungsdatum 23.08.2016
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-8129-9848-1
Verlag Random House LCC US
Maße (L/B/H) 24,2/16,9/3,8 cm
Gewicht 670 g
Buch (gebundene Ausgabe, Englisch)
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1 Bewertung

Behold the Dreamers
von miss.mesmerized am 22.08.2016

America – the land of dreams and unlimited possibilities- But only if you have the right papers. Jende Jonga, an immigrant from Cameroon now living in Harlem, does not have them yet, but is cousin and his lawyer are optimistic, everything will turn out fine for him and his... America – the land of dreams and unlimited possibilities- But only if you have the right papers. Jende Jonga, an immigrant from Cameroon now living in Harlem, does not have them yet, but is cousin and his lawyer are optimistic, everything will turn out fine for him and his wife Neni who also came to New York to get an education to become a pharmacist. When he gets the chance to work as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers, Jende seems to have reached all he ever dreamt of: his income is good, the can put aside a lot of money for a better future and his boos appreciates his discretion and good work. The Jonga family and the Edwards seem to get closer, Neni can help out Cindy in the Hamptons and thus earn some extra money, the kids also like Jende a lot. When the crisis hits Wall Street, Jende and Neni cannot immediately see that this will also affect their life, but as the Edwards struggle more and more, also the couple from Cameroon has to re-adjust their dreams and future plans. One of the most talk about novels this summer can fulfil all the promises. A wonderful piece of art which can hardly be summarized in a couple of words. Imbolo Mbue does not only tell the story of the modern American Dream. Of course, Jende and Neni do have some wrong ideas of what awaits them in the USA – but: everything is better than their paternalistic home country where Jende as a member of the wrong family can never make a career and where Neni’s options in life as a woman are clearly limited. They are the role model of the immigrant: they work hard, they are decent and obedient, they never ask for anything they are not entitled to and their high moral standards keep them from making the wrong choices. However, this is just the surface of the story. What struck me most were two aspects the author narrates casually: the way the relationship of Jende and Neni changes when their situation gets more complicated and stressful. First, we get to know Jende as a man who keeps up the Carmeroon morale and ideals but he treats Neni as his equal, his love for her grants her a very different position from what it would have been like in Africa. When his situation deteriorates and he understands that he will never be able to achieve his aims, he falls back into macho patterns and treats his wife like an inferior who is not allowed to make decisions and whom he even beats at a moment of highest despair. You can go to another country, but there are things you can never get rid of. The second aspect also affected Neni: when she talks to her dean about support for a scholarship and he tells her that she is never going to be a pharmacist, I first hated him because he destroys her dreams. However, he is not completely wrong and it does make sense to make people see reality: the American Dream will not be fulfilled for everyone. Apart from the richness of the content – there would have been so much more to mention: the collapse of the Edwards family, community structures in Harlem, the treatment of black people in America etc. – Imbolo Mbue has a wonderful voice which makes you really enjoy the novel. She finds the right words to narrate her story which deserves all the praise it has received.