Courtesy of The Daily Gazette
Posted September 15, 2019
Sometimes, a book’s meaning depends on its readers, and the time period in which they read it.
Imbolo Mbue, who is slated to visit SUNY Schenectady on Thursday, is perhaps even more aware of this than other authors.
Her debut novel “Behold the Dreamers,” deals with timely topics of immigration, socio economic issues and, of course, the idea of the American Dream.
“This is a very well-written book. It’s a beautiful read, an inspiring read. . . It is so relevant to what we are going through at a national level. The divisions that are being created, the tensions that exist and this book is written for a time such as this,” said Steady H. Moono, president of SUNY Schenectady.
However, when Mbue set out to write it shortly after the financial crisis, writing a timely book was the last thing on her mind. She was more interested in telling the story of Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant and taxi driver for Clark Edwards, a top executive at Lehman Brothers, the famed investment banking company.
“People analyze this book from many different angles, [they say] ‘It’s about the American dream or it’s about immigration, it’s about class.’ I was not interested in that; I wasn’t out to write a book about immigration or class, I was out tell the story of people and how these people’s lives were affected by this huge socioeconomic event. It was just important to me that I tell their story,” Mbue said.
And tell their story she did.