Sinai Reads: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Sinai Reads: Behold the Dreamers

A Novel by Imbolo Mbue

Wednesday, March 21 at 7:30pm


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. Getting the job as chauffeur to Lehman Brothers executive Clark Edwards lifted the hopes of Cameroonian immigrant Jende Jonga. With this job, he could start seeing his dreams come true. He could finally provide a better life for his wife and son. Clark Edwards and his family lived the life that everybody dreamed of – a luxurious home, material comforts, and many undreamed of privileges. The Jongas too could have this kind of life one day. But soon a financial crash takes over Lehman Brothers, sending Edwards and his chauffeur and both their families into financial trouble. Can the Jongas still look forward to their dreams being fulfilled? Can the Edwards hold on to the lavish lifestyle they were used to? 

Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers, recently selected for Oprah’s Book Club picks, tells the story of dreamers and their plight as they face the inevitable consequences of the 2008 financial crash that hit America. EVERY GOOD BOOK CONTAINS A WORLD FAR DEEPER than the surface of its pages. The characters and their world come alive, and the characters and its world still live on.

Enjoy reading, 

Mark Kessler and Howard Berrent



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