Behold the Dreamers: A Novel
Jenge Jonga wants one thing: to move to New York City and build a good American life for his family. When he raises enough money to leave Cameroon and embark on his longed-for journey, he’s full of optimism–confident in the promise of the American Dream, secure in the knowledge that he will work as hard as necessary to create the life he wants. He gets a job as a chauffeur for a Lehman Brothers bigwig named Clark Edwards, a stroke of good fortune that seems to confirm every last one of his ambitions. Jenge’s wife, Neni, even gets work as a housekeeper for Clark’s wife, Cindy. Little do the Jongas know that their involvement with the Edwards family will change them forever, in ways neither of them expected or desired.
Zeroing in on how the collapse of Lehman Brothers affected everyone in the bankers’ orbit, Behold the Dreamers is an unsettling examination of how even the staunchest hope can buckle when opportunities, time and again, refuse to manifest. The good life Jenge seeks always seems just out of reach, and Mbue doesn’t flinch from showing the full extent of the toll his searching exacts on him and his marriage. Even the most determined dreamers eventually cease to dream.