Imbolo Mbue

Imbolo Mbue is a native of Limbe, Cameroon and has lived in the United States for over a decade, currently residing with her husband and children in New York City. Born to a single mother in a small village in Cameroon, Imbolo spent most of her childhood in houses without electricity or running water. Relatives paid for Imbolo to study in the United States, where she graduated from Rutgers and went on to earn a master’s degree from Columbia University by working during the day and going to school at night. She began her career in New York, married, and started a family. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, Imbolo lost her job in marketing, and like thousands of other New Yorkers, her future was uncertain. Drawing from her personal experiences, Imbolo began to write her highly-anticipated novel, Behold the Dreamers, recently published in August 2016 by Random House. In what NPR calls a “remarkable debut”, Mbue tells the story of a Cameroonian man named Jende Jonga and his wife Neni. After immigrating to America in 2007, the young Cameroonian couple hope to build a better life for their young son, Liomi. As they struggle to make ends meet in New York City, Neni works as a home health aide while attending college and Jende drives a cab. Luck changes for the two of them when Jende finds work as a personal chauffeur for a Lehman Brothers executive named Clark Edwards. Though Jende and Neni see a massive pay raise and new opportunities begin to open, their marriage takes a turn for the worse as the Edwards family’s lives unravel in the face of the 2008 financial crisis. Told from a compassionate and sensitive account of the immigration experience, the Washington Post’s Ron Charles puts it best when he describes, “Mbue’s social commentary never develops that toxic level of irony. Jende and his wife may not get exactly what they thought they wanted, but this book’s spirit remains irrepressibly buoyant.” Imbolo Mbue is winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for her debut novel.

Video Interviews linked here.

Conference Engagements


Friday, June 16: 5:30-7:00pm
Auditorium Event

Imbolo Mbue

Chaired by Joyce Ashuntantang
Venue: Sterling Law Building Lecture Theater