Today on CBS This Morning, Oprah Winfrey announced Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue by the newest selection for her incredibly influential book club.
In Behold the Dreamers, 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.
Oprah’s recommendation is just the latest accolade for Behold the Dreamers. The debut novel was listed as a New York Times Notable Book, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, was longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award, and was included on the the American Library Association’s Notable Book list.
It was also named one of the best books of the year by NPR, The New York Times Book Review, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Chicago Public Library, BookPage, Refinery29, and Kirkus Reviews.