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Imbolo Mbue Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Behold the Dreamers (2016)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
How Beautiful We Were (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Imbolo Mbue
Author Imbolo Mbue was born in the year 1981, and is a native of Limbe, Cameroon. She has an MA from Columbia University and a BS from Rutgers University.

Imbolo lived in Limbe, Cameroon until family sponsored her higher education studies in America, coming to the States in the year 1998. She says that coming to America made her realize that she had to learn to stand out and stand up. She had to learn to be bolder and that she didn’t have to put up with things here that she would’ve in Limbe.

After she finished her undergrad and grad studies, she started a job in marketing for a media company, a job she lost during the recession. During this time, Imbolo observed the difference in classes as she walked through New York City, where she observed cab drives that were mostly black, waiting to drive around executives. This formed the basis of her novel “Behold the Dreamers”.

The novel looks to explore topics regarding the complexities of American immigration policies and achievements, and the pursuance of the American Dream. Imbolo says that the novel links the experiences of the characters and feelings with those she experienced: hopelessness, financial struggles, reevaluation of one’s goals, and overall struggles as an immigrant. Imbolo stresses the importance of literature providing empathy, which she feels lacked in overall politics and immigration policies.

While writing the novel, she found that the biggest challenge was the fact that she had never written anything before. She had no background in creative writing and had never taken a creative writing class before. The last English class was English 101 in college. Since she didn’t have the necessary experience in creative writing, it was a more excruciating process, and took her five years to write the book.

In the year 2014, she became an American citizen, and lives with her husband and kids in New York City.

“Behold the Dreamers” won the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction Best Book in the year 2017. It also won the Blue Metropolis Words to Change Award and was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. It has been translated into eleven different languages, and has been adapted into a stage play and an opera.

Imbolo’s debut novel, called “Behold the Dreamers”, was released in the year 2016. Her work is from the literary fiction genre.

“Behold the Dreamers” is the first stand alone novel and was released in the year 2016. A novel about immigration, race, marriage, class, and the trapdoors in the American Dream. It is the unforgettable tale about a young Cameroonian couple that is making a new life for themselves in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy.

Jende Jonga, who is a Cameroonian immigrant that lives in Harlem, has moved to the United States to provide a better life for his wife (Neni), their six year old son, and himself. Jende, in the fall of 2007, he can barely believe his own luck when he lands a job as a driver for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers.

Clark demands discretion, punctuality, and loyalty; Jende is eager to please him. Clark’s wife, named Cindy, offers Neni temporary work at their summer home in the Hamptons. With these chances, Neni and Jende can both at last gain their foothold in the states and start imagining a brighter future. But, the world of great privilege and power hides some troubling secrets and quickly Neni and Jende notice some cracks in their employers’ facades.

The Jongas become desperate to keep Jende’s position when the financial world gets rocked by Lehman Brothers’ collapse, even while their marriage threatens to fall apart. While all four lives are dramatically put on end, Neni and Jende are forced to make one impossible decision.

The writing is beautiful at times and Jende and Neni are both complex and capture your attention rather easily. Readers loved the depictions of their home country and their connections to it. Mbue forces her audiences to walk around in the shoes of each of her characters and think about what it has to be like to be in their position. The novel has relevant and complex issues with some wonderful storytelling where the characters are forced through many tribulations, trials, and triumphs.

“How Beautiful We Were” is the second stand alone novel and was released in the year 2021. A wrenching and sweeping tale about an American oil company and a tiny African village colliding.

We should’ve known that the end was close. This starts this powerful second novel by Imbolo Mbue. Set in Kosawa, a fictional African village, it tells the story of a people that live in fear amid some environmental degradation brought on by an American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered some of the farmlands infertile. Kids are dying after drinking the toxic water. Promises of financial reparations and cleanup to the villagers have been made. And have been ignored.

The country’s government, which is led by a brazen dictator, exists only to serve its own interests. Left with just a few options, the people of Kosawa choose to fight back. Their struggle’s going to last for decades and come with a heavy price.

Told from the point of view of a generation of kids and the family of one girl named Thula, who grows up and becomes a revolutionary. This is an exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, combined with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against a community’s determination to hang on to its ancestral land and one young woman’s willingness to sacrifice it all for the sake of her people’s freedom.

This is a novel with the power and richness of a fantastic contemporary fable, and a heroine for our time. This book is incredibly beautiful and readers couldn’t put the novel down. Mbue delivers a great contemporary with excellent characters that readers are sure to remember for a long time after they finish reading it. The novel is compelling right from the start and draws some right in, and the ending is emotional and powerful.

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