What is behold the dreamers about

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what is behold the dreamers about

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

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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Published 29.12.2018

Gayle King interviews Imbolo Mbue, author of Oprah book club pick "Behold the Dreamers"

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What do newcomers to the United States want from this country? What do they bring to it? The Book-It version has some tempo problems: It lags from too many short episodes requiring too many furniture-arranging scene changes. The production struggles early on to gain the momentum of the highly readable novel, and at two-and-a-half hours needs streamlining. With their young son, and a new baby on the way, the couple outstay their travel visas in hopes of gaining a permanent foothold in America — a possibility oversold by an exuberant fellow African Marcel Davis , who has found his American niche as an immigration lawyer. An intelligent, affable man and a hard worker, Jende wants to rise above subsistence living, and provide a more prosperous future for his family than he could in Cameroon.

Behold the Dreamers is the debut novel by Imbolo Mbue. The novel details the experiences of two New York City families during the financial crisis.
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Behold the Dreamers is the debut novel by Imbolo Mbue. The novel opens in fall with the interview of an immigrant from Cameroon, Jende Jonga, who is hoping to be hired as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a Lehman Brothers executive. Jonga's job allows him to pay his wife's college tuition and send money back home until the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers threatens both families. Jende Jonga is also seeking permanent residency through a false asylum request. In Mbue's novel, the immigrant family are discomfited by the transition to a new place, and find themselves changing in response, which was called "a fresh take on the immigrant experience". Mbue lost her job in the wake of the financial crisis and was unemployed for a year and a half. She wrote the novel to explain her new understanding that "the American dream is not that accessible to everybody".

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The results were fascinating: each of the two men in the lower income brackets, without knowing what the others made, said that he would need exactly the income of the man above him. The implication was that their pursuit of the American dream had left them wanting — not for everything, but for just enough to reach the next step. Jende Jonga is an immigrant from the poverty-stricken West African nation of Cameroon. A lucky connection gets him a job as the personal chauffeur to Clark Edwards, an executive at the soon-to-be-doomed Lehman Brothers. In many ways, the immigrant narrative is familiar. The Jongas came to America with nothing and work tirelessly.

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