Nominated by:

Wojewódzka Biblioteka Publiczna im. Marszałka Józefa Piłsudskiego w Łodzi, Poland

Bibliothèques Municipales Genève, Switzerland

Jacksonville Public Library, USA

Richmond Public Library, USA

Ferguson Library, Stamford, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Random House USA

Behold the Dreamers

Imbolo Mbue    

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.

 About the author

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.

(from publisher)

Librarians’ comments

All those who think that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence should read this novel. Imbolo Mbue knew exactly how to depict the US that no longer resembles the US born from the dreams of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Behold the Dreamers is a novel about the faith in dreams, a parable about the people that decided to make an effort and just try. It is a story about those who could do everything and suddenly were unable to do anything apart from making up for the harm they caused around them.

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.

Set in New York city in 2007 on the eve of the global financial crisis, a young family from Cameroon find their immigration status tenuous after Lehman Brothers collapses and Jende loses his job. His heart pulled in two directions, back to his home in Limbe or to stay in New York with his wife and children, Jende and Neni must decide where they belong. Behold the Dreamers is a poignant love letter to home.

A sharp shift from the standard immigrant tale – hope and dreams drive the protagonists but reality is much more harsh.

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