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.

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All Reviews

Critic Reviews (11)

7.3
Weighted Avg. Adjusted by the addition of a statistical value.
Critic Score Distribution
Highest score:
Lowest score:
Average score:
9.0
7.0
8.1
  1. Positive: 11 Out of 11
  1. Mixed: 0 Out of 11
  1. Negative: 0 Out of 11
Critical Consensus: Generally favorable.
1

St. Louis Post-Dispatc

20 Aug 2016
8.0
"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." ...
1

Boston Globe

19 Aug 2016
8.0
“[A] beautiful, empathetic novel... Mbue’s narrative energy and sympathetic eye soon render... At once critical and hopeful, Behold the Dreamers traces the political and economic systems that push individuals toward dishonesty, while also acknowl ...
3

NPR

24 Aug 2016
9.0
"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 ...
1

The New York Times Boo ...

01 Sep 2016
8.0
"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." ...
2

The Washington Post

17 Aug 2016
9.0
"There’s a persistent warmth in this book, a species of faith that’s too often singed away by wit in contemporary fiction. For all its comedy, Mbue’s social commentary never develops that toxic level of irony." ...
1

The Seattle Times

26 Aug 2017
8.0
"“Behold the Dreamers” takes on a hot-button topic — immigration — and fills it full of gray areas. It’s a fast-paced, character-driven read that, while not always entirely credible, is certainly unpredictable in the way it moves toward its ...

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SIMILAR Books

Published:

June 26, 2017

Publisher:

Random House Trade

ISBN:

978-0-812-98797-3

Language:

English

Literary Awards:

PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Nominee (2016)
PEN Open Book Award Nominee for Longlist (2017)
Andrew Carnegie Medal Nominee for Fiction (2017)

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