Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo M'bue (Random House, 2016)
At the intersection of Americanah and the fiction of Amy Tan, a riveting debut novel about two marriages—one immigrant and working class, the other from the top 1%—both chasing their version of the American Dream.
In the fall of 2007, Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Jende hopes the new job will enable him, his adored wife, Neni, and his young son, to live a better life in America.
Their situation only improves when Neni is hired as household help by Clark’s wife, Cindy.
But in the course of their work, Jende and Neni begin to witness infidelities, skirmishes, and family secrets. Desperate to shield the fragile life they’ve built in New York, the Jongas protect the Edwardses, even when the other couple’s secrets begin to drive a wedge between Jende and Neni.
Then, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, a tragedy changes all four lives forever, and the Jongas must decide whether to continue fighting to stay in a recession-ravaged America or give up and return home to Cameroon.
A deeply empathetic debut novel about marriage, class, and race, and the crevasses in the American Dream.
Join us to discuss "Behold the Dreamers" by Imbolo M'Bue Wednesday, January 31 at 6:15pm at Writer's Block Bookstore.
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.