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Behold the Dreamers

A Novel. Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award 2017

(1)
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

New York Times Bestseller - Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award - Longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award - An ALA Notable Book

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
NPR - The New York Times Book Review - San Francisco Chronicle - The Guardian - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Chicago Public Library - BookPage - Refinery29 - Kirkus Reviews

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

"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 . . . Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller."-The Washington Post

"A capacious, big-hearted novel."-The New York Times Book Review

"Behold the Dreamers' heart . . . belongs to the struggles and small triumphs of the Jongas, which Mbue traces in clean, quick-moving paragraphs."-Entertainment Weekly

"Mbue's writing is warm and captivating."-People (book of the week)

"[Mbue's] book isn't the first work of fiction to grapple with the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, but it's surely one of the best. . . . 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

"This story is one that needs to be told."-Bust

"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

"[A] beautiful, empathetic novel."-The Boston Globe

"A witty, compassionate, swiftly paced novel that takes on race, immigration, family and the dangers of capitalist excess."-St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Mbue [is] a deft, often lyrical observer. . . . [Her] meticulous storytelling announces a writer in command of her gifts."-Minneapolis Star Tribune
Rezension
"As a dissection of the American Dream, Imbolo Mbue's first novel is savage and compassionate in all the right places."-The New York Times

"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

"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

"In Imbolo Mbue's sprightly debut . . . songs of innocence and arrogance collide."-Vogue

"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

"An utterly unique novel about immigration, race, and class-and an important one, as well."-BookPage

"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."-The 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's writing is warm and captivating."-People (book of the week)

"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

"This story is one that needs to be told."-Bust

"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

"[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

"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

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Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 400
Erscheinungsdatum 01.08.2016
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-8129-8984-7
Verlag Random House LCC US
Maße (L/B/H) 23,3/15,6/3 cm
Gewicht 464 g
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
12,99
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Behold the Dreamers
von miss.mesmerized am 22.08.2016
Bewertet: Einband: gebundene Ausgabe

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... 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.