Episode 26: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Behold the Dreamers is the story of Jende and Neni Jonga, Cameroonians who have come to New York in search of a better life for themselves and their son. The time is 2007 and the economy is booming. Jende gets a job as a chauffeur for an executive at Lehman Brothers; Neni does babysitting and housework for the wife. The American Dream seems within grasp. But with the collapse of the financial industry, the promise of that dream comes into question. Is achieving it still possible? Is it even desirable? This is a book about immigration, class, race, gender, money, power - but, even more than that, it's a book about success and failure, desire and love, compromise and loss.
Host Cyd Oppenheimer talks with Imbolo Mbue about learning to write ("It starts with reading a lot of books"), about initial reactions to the book's conclusion ("I had an agent tell me, 'American readers don't like complex endings'"), and about race ("When you come [to America], you realize you're black").