I’m not sure if Oprah Winfrey has quite the clout in the publishing world that she used to have, when her mentioning a book would be enough to turn the book into a best-seller, but her book club recommendations still carry a certain amount of weight, and her latest book club pick is a book we have here at the Field Library if you’d like to check it out for yourself.
The book is Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, and, for those of us doing the 2017 Reading Challenge (don’t think I’ve forgotten!), it counts as an immigration narrative and also as a debut novel (always good to find a book that satisfies more than one category).
The book focuses on two families in the shadow of the financial collapse of 2007. Jende Jonga, a recent immigrant from Cameroon, is living in Harlem with his wife, Neni, and their six year old son when he gets what looks like a terrific job as a chauffeur to Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers (you are probably already shuddering at where this is going to go), and Clark’s wife even offers Neni a job at the family’s summer home in (of course) the Hamptons. Things are looking up for the Jonga family, and they finally have hopes of getting a foothold on the ladder to the American middle class.
As you guessed from hearing the magic words, Lehman Brothers, things are not all going well in paradise, as the Jongas come to discover, and when everything falls apart for their employers (and nearly for the entire world economy), their marriage, and the Edwards’ marriage, suffer nearly impossible strains. Are they going to survive the fall? And if so, how?
Come and pick up your copy of Behold the Dreamers and see for yourself whether Oprah has made a good pick this month.