AUTHOR | IMBOLO MBUE

Biography

Imbolo Mbue is the author of the New York Times bestseller Behold the Dreamers, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Blue Metropolis Words to Change Award, and was an Oprah's Book Club selection. Named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times and The Washington Post and a Best Book of the Year by close to a dozen publications, the novel has been translated into 11 languages, adapted into an opera in Poland as well as a stage play in Seattle, WA, and was recently optioned for a movie. Her newest How Beautiful We Were is a sweeping, wrenching story about the collision of a small African village and an American oil company.

Mbue’s book is informed by her experience of being an African immigrant and the experiences of immigrants from around the world who shared their stories with her. Like Jende and Neni, she grew up in Limbe, Cameroon before moving to the U.S. in 1998. She holds a B.S. from Rutgers University and an M.A. from Columbia University. She lives in New York City.

WATCH: Mbue interviewed for The Center for Fiction 
Online resources: www.imbolombue.com

ABOUT THE BOOK

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue


Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, How Beautiful We Were tells the story of a people living in fear amidst environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company.

Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of clean-up and financial reparations to the villagers are made—and ignored. The country’s government, led by a brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interest. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. Their struggle would last for decades and come at a steep price.


Told through the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula who grows up to become a revolutionary, How Beautiful We Were is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community’s determination to hold onto its ancestral land and a young woman’s willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people’s freedom.


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