NeMLA Reads Together

Imbolo Mbue, "Behold the Dreamers"

Credit: Kiriko Sano

Credit: Kiriko Sano

"NeMLA Reads Together" promotes a novel written by our opening night speaker. The speaker will be interviewed by a NeMLA member before a live audience, and the transcript of this interview will be considered by publication by NeMLA's journal Modern Language Studies

West of Sunset

NeMLA's 50th Anniversary Convention in Washington, DC, will kick off on March 21, 2019, with an interactive and dynamic live interview of our esteemed guest author. This year's invited author is Imbolo Mbue, and her book Behold the Dreamers will be the focus of "NeMLA Reads Together."

Behold the Dreamers follows Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, who 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 their 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’ facades. Then the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Desperate to keep Jende’s job, which grows more tenuous by the day, the Jongas try to protect the Edwardses from certain truths, even as their own marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

NeMLA members are encouraged to read Behold the Dreamers in preparation for the opening address and to submit a question they would like to ask the author. Bring your questions for Mbue to the convention!