Behold the Dreamers: A Novel

By Imbolo Mbue
Read by Prentice Onayemi

12.23 Hours 08/23/2016 unabridged
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    ISBN: 9780147523105

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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 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.

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Summary

Summary

A Washington Post Best Audiobook of 2016 Selection

PEN/Faulkner Award Winner

Oprah’s Book Club Selection

A People Pick of the Week

Longlisted for the 2017 Carnegie Medal for Literature

New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year Selection

Guardian Best Book of the Year

San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2016

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Book of 2016

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

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.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Narrator Prentice Onayemi invigorates the listener with a steady pace and musical intonation…Onayemi’s distinctive accents ensure that the listener can differentiate between the the African immigrants and the American characters…He makes the two different cultural worlds depicted in the novel vivid and fully believable.” AudioFile
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
As a dissection of the American Dream, Imbolo Mbue’s first novel is savage and compassionate in all the right places. New York Times
A revelation . . . Mbue has written a clever morality tale that never preaches but instead teaches us the power of integrity. Essence
In Imbolo Mbue’s sprightly debut . . . songs of innocence and arrogance collide. Vogue
Even as Behold the Dreamers takes some dark, vicious turns, it never feels cheaply cynical, grounded as it is in the well-imagined characters who try, through whatever means possible, to protect their families and better their lives. USA Today
[A] beautiful, empathetic novel . . . Mbue’s narrative energy and sympathetic eye soon render . . . commonplace ingredients vivid, complex, and essential. . . . At once critical and hopeful, Behold the Dreamers traces the political and economic systems that push individuals toward dishonesty, while also acknowledging the bad and affirming the good in their complicated personal choices. The Boston Globe
Among the spate of novels forged in the crucible of the previous decade, Mbue’s impressive debut deserves a singular place. . . . Realistic, tragic, and still remarkably kind to all its characters, this is a special book. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A fresh, engaging entry into the eternally evolving narrative of what it means to be an American—and how human beings, not laws or dogma, define liberty. Entertainment Weekly
An utterly unique novel about immigration, race, and class—and an important one, as well. BookPage
“A fast-paced, engaging read with an interesting cross-cultural background. Library Journal
Imagine Lorraine Hansberry’s play/film A Raisin in the Sun with a Cameroonian cast of characters in early twenty-first century New York City, and you may come up with something close to Behold the Dreamers, a poignant and bittersweet debut. San Francisco Chronicle
Behold the Dreamers . . . just might be the most accessible novel I’ve ever read. . . . Mbue does an admirable job of developing characters whose lives seem so heartbreakingly real that the pages of this book often seem like something of a confinement. When you close the book, you will hear their pain. You might feel them calling for you. Los Angeles Review of Books
The Help meets House of Cards meets the read that’ll make you forget all about your morning commute. theSkimm
Undocumented immigration, the widening gulf between rich and poor, and the thinly veiled racism of an avowedly ‘post-racial’ culture converge in this new generation of immigrants’ painful encounter with the American Dream. . . . The prose grows luminous. The Christian Science Monitor
Mbue’s outsider’s perceptions of American life—its stresses, its excesses—are sharp. . . . She’s also shrewd on the disruptions that come with the Jongas leaving their native land for a dream that may be a delusion. The Seattle Times
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. 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. . . . Behold the Dreamers is a capacious, big-hearted novel. The New York Times Book Review
Mbue is a wonderful writer with an uncanny ear for dialogue—there are no false notes here, no narrative shortcuts, and certainly no manufactured happy endings. 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
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
A witty, compassionate, swiftly paced novel that takes on race, immigration, family and the dangers of capitalist excess. In her debut novel, Mbue has crafted a compelling view of twenty-first-century America. St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Behold the Dreamers reveals Mbue as a deft, often lyrical observer. . . . [Her] meticulous storytelling announces a writer in command of her gifts, plumbing the desires and disappointments of our emerging global culture. Minneapolis Star Tribune
At once a sad indictment of the American dream and a gorgeous testament to the enduring bonds of family, Mbue’s powerful first novel will grip and move you right up to its heartfelt ending. Shelf Awareness
Mbue proves herself a clear-eyed, unflinching storyteller, and Behold the Dreamers is a fearless, head-on journey into the thorny contemporary issues of American exceptionalism. Interview Magazine

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Imbolo Mbue

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.

Titles by Author

Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, CD
Category: Fiction/Literary
Runtime: 12.23
Audience: Adult
Language: English