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 Jongas' 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.
"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)
"Realistic, tragic, and still remarkably kind to all its characters, this is a special book." ( Kirkus, starred review)
"A debut novel that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse.... Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller." ( Washington Post)
"Mbue writes with great confidence and warmth.... A capacious, big-hearted novel." ( The New York Times Book Review)
"Warm and captivating." ( People)
"A heartfelt rumination on immigration, race, class, marriage, and hope." ( Buzzfeed)
"Imbolo Mbue's masterful debut about an immigrant family struggling to obtain the elusive American Dream in Harlem will have you feeling for each character from the moment you crack it open." ( In Style)
" 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)
"Reminiscent of Jonathan Franzen and Joyce Carol Oates...a finely nuanced examination of the American Dream." ( Sydney Morning Herald)
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By TheZee on 20-04-18
This book is of superb quality. I felt every emotion with every character. It's so real and interesting in the process of hoping for a better life in another country. I was moved by the whole book. The narrator is excellent. The author captures so much in this wonderful literary work.
Behold the Dreamers is viscerally beautiful.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Lin Becker on 21-09-18
The Dreamers see the American Dream & Nightmare
Jende and Neni are beautifully and painstakingly rendered in this novel. Their arrival in Harlem from Limbe, Cameroon (where the author is from) is driven by a pure need for escape and hunger for a future. As if their lives are not already full of struggle, they are caught out in an unexpected way by the fall of Lehman Brothers. They try to react to everything that's been thrown at them in an honest and honorable way. But Neni starts to think about making immoral and unethical choices in order to remain in the US. It's a fascinating read to see her calculus of decision making. Jende and Neni can see the American dream and nightmare all captured in one frame. Despite that, they would like to stay. This is a heartbreaking read.