A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trap doors 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.
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
Mbue writes with great confidence and warmth. . . . There are a lot of spinning plates and Mbue balances them skillfully, keeping everything in motion. . . .A capacious, big-hearted novel. The New York Times Book Review
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
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
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