Imbolo Mbue Behold the Dreamers


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Inhaltsangabe zu „Behold the Dreamers“ von 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 Named one of BuzzFeed’s “Incredible New Books You Need to Read This Summer” 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. Praise for Behold the Dreamers “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  “In the near decade since the onset of the Great Recession, few works of fiction have examined what those years felt like for everyday people, how so many continued to hope and plan and love amid pervasive uncertainty. Enter Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, a Cameroonian American who situates her characters of US shores just as prosperity is beginning to seem like a thing of the past. . . . 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 Magazine “A revelation . . . Mbue has written a clever morality tale that never preaches but instead teaches us the power of integrity.”—Essence “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 “Gripping and beautifully told.”—Good Housekeeping “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) “The Jongas are . . . vivid, and the book’s unexpected ending—and its sharp-eyed focus on issues of immigration, race, and class—speak to a sad truth in today’s cutthroat world: the American dream isn’t what it seems.”—Publishers Weekly

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  • Imbolo Mbue - Behold the Dreamers

    Behold the Dreamers


    22. August 2016 um 06:26

    America – the land of dreams and unlimited possibilities- But only if you have the right papers. Jende Jonga, an immigrant from Cameroon now living in Harlem, does not have them yet, but is cousin and his lawyer are optimistic, everything will turn out fine for him and his wife Neni who also came to New York to get an education to become a pharmacist. When he gets the chance to work as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers, Jende seems to have reached all he ever dreamt of: his income is good, the can put aside a lot of money for a better future and his boos appreciates his discretion and good work. The Jonga family and the Edwards seem to get closer, Neni can help out Cindy in the Hamptons and thus earn some extra money, the kids also like Jende a lot. When the crisis hits Wall Street, Jende and Neni cannot immediately see that this will also affect their life, but as the Edwards struggle more and more, also the couple from Cameroon has to re-adjust their dreams and future plans.One of the most talk about novels this summer can fulfil all the promises. A wonderful piece of art which can hardly be summarized in a couple of words. Imbolo Mbue does not only tell the story of the modern American Dream. Of course, Jende and Neni do have some wrong ideas of what awaits them in the USA – but: everything is better than their paternalistic home country where Jende as a member of the wrong family can never make a career and where Neni’s options in life as a woman are clearly limited. They are the role model of the immigrant: they work hard, they are decent and obedient, they never ask for anything they are not entitled to and their high moral standards keep them from making the wrong choices. However, this is just the surface of the story.What struck me most were two aspects the author narrates casually: the way the relationship of Jende and Neni changes when their situation gets more complicated and stressful. First, we get to know Jende as a man who keeps up the Carmeroon morale and ideals but he treats Neni as his equal, his love for her grants her a very different position from what it would have been like in Africa. When his situation deteriorates and he understands that he will never be able to achieve his aims, he falls back into macho patterns and treats his wife like an inferior who is not allowed to make decisions and whom he even beats at a moment of highest despair. You can go to another country, but there are things you can never get rid of. The second aspect also affected Neni: when she talks to her dean about support for a scholarship and he tells her that she is never going to be a pharmacist, I first hated him because he destroys her dreams. However, he is not completely wrong and it does make sense to make people see reality: the American Dream will not be fulfilled for everyone.Apart from the richness of the content – there would have been so much more to mention: the collapse of the Edwards family, community structures in Harlem, the treatment of black people in America etc. – Imbolo Mbue has a wonderful voice which makes you really enjoy the novel. She finds the right words to narrate her story which deserves all the praise it has received.

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