Photo by Christine Witkowski
Gracious, humorous, eloquent, classy are all words I would use to describe Imbolo Mbue . From her lunch time talk with college staff, to her afternoon address to 200 students, to her inspirational evening talk to approximately 300 people, Imbolo Mbue’s visit to Schenectady went off without a hitch. As evidenced by their perceptive questions, her exchanges with the college students were particularly meaningful. For young, aspiring writers to have the opportunity to listen to a successful writer speak about her craft is quite special. Imbolo Mbue is a treasure and the Friends of the Library are thrilled to have had her here!
I appreciated her lecture on several levels. In accessible language, Imbolo speaks to the broadest sociological concepts and the most micro level details of human thought and emotion. She was able to speak to power, immigration and simultaneously the writing process itself including, how to develop characters and learn from one’s own novel! She’s a gifted writer and speaker.
Imbolo was very engaging as a speaker. She infused humor throughout her program and attendees responded with warm laughter. It was really nice to see parents feel comfortable bringing older children (8 and up) to the event, and some even asked questions and engaged with Imbolo during the book signing. Wonderful program!
I really appreciated how seriously Imbolo took the task to prepare a compelling and thoughtful talk. Her lecture was funny, insightful, and challenging. One audience member commented after that they were “enchanted and moved and inspired by Imbolo Mbue’s eloquent, transcendent talk.” It truly was all of those things! Imbolo shared the hard questions she’s both received and asked herself during her 20 years in the United States and on the path to becoming a writer. Those questions and her eloquent answers prompted our audience to leap to a unanimous standing ovation the second she finished her talk. It was an honor to host her in Seattle!
The 180 students in the honors program at FIT, along with about 25 faculty members and administrators, read BEHOLD THE DREAMERS over the summer. (During her visit) Imbolo read two brief passages from the book, and then opened the floor to questions from the audience. The students asked a variety of questions ranging from her writing process to the micro-aggressions discussed in the book. She was very warm, and forth-coming and everyone really enjoyed hearing directly from her.
Keynote speaker Imbolo Mbue, originally from Cameroon and educated at Columbia University, devoted time on the life of immigrants in American society. Reading extracts from her Behold the Dreamers: A Novel, she praised America for its values and contributions to modern society but lamented over a resurgence of racial and anti-immigrant attitudes in the country. She invoked America’s best ideals, citing the founding principle of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [and women] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among those are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Based on that, she challenged the audience to return to the country’s most valued character of empathy, and individual and social responsibility. Imbolo lived up to her reputation. She was “fantastic.” And her message of human understanding, individual and social responsibility, and empathy was timely for our community. We thank you!
Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers was selected as Simmons University’s common read for first year students by a committee of faculty, staff, and students, after a University-wide nomination process. Our incoming students read the novel over the summer and arrived at Simmons ready to discuss this important work. All students participated in structured discussions during a required first year course. Students in each section discussed the novel, looked at the Q&A included in the book, and discussed what makes a good question. Then, they wrote their own questions they would like to ask Mbue during her campus visit and each section selected the “best question.” “Best question” winners were invited to attend a dinner with Mbue after her keynote. Mbue’s visit was very special for all of us at Simmons. She visited a class, gave a keynote, and then attended dinner where she spoke with students, faculty, and staff. Students commented on how her talk was funny, insightful, and perfectly pitched to their age group. Mbue was engaged, passionate, and a pleasure to host for the day!
The Dyson School’s Inaugural Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series featured Imbolo Mbue, author of Behold the Dreamers, the novel we selected for our 2018 Common Read Program. This complex story raised many timely issues, however there were three themes particularly rich and relevant for new students at a business school with the motto “Our Business is a Better World.” The first was the role and responsibilities of business in society (the novel is set in and around Wall Street in 2007); the second was the promise of, and gaps in, the American Dream (two protagonists are immigrants hoping for a better life in America); the third was the process of developing identity and social belonging (like some of the characters in the book, many students are exploring “who they really are” as they create a professional identity). We focused Ms. Mbue’s visit to the Dyson School on sharing knowledge and fostering community in varied spaces and with diverse constituencies. After the lecture, we were especially pleased to see students eagerly responding to the author’s message with probing follow-up questions of their own about her writing process, character development, and strong commitment to relating an unvarnished, authentic story. “I really enjoyed Ms. Mbue’s talk,” one lecture attendee commented. “I found it really authentic and gently thought-provoking. Such a pleasure to get the inside scoop on the thoughtful workings of a creative mind. Congratulations to the Dyson School for a great community project!”
Excellent Speaker and Guest on campus. If you are looking for a common reading book with relevant themes, relatable characters and an interesting plot twists, then I highly recommend Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. We used the book as our 2018 Summer Reading for all incoming students and it was well received. We also invited Imbolo to come to campus to speak and she was even better. She was easy to work with, very professional and all around delightful. Her talk in the evening was relevant and personable- one that our students could really relate to. She was funny and positive even when discussing heavy subjects related to the book and her own personal experience. She eat lunch with students, visited a class and then was the guest of honor at an Honors Students dinner and was delightful all throughout the day. I give her my highest praise as a visiting author!
We were so happy to host Imbolo last year and our event was a raging success. We had two very well-attended book discussions leading up to her talk and our community was really engaged with the book and its themes. After the event, several area book clubs chose it as a title and as a result, it was a popular choice at our library for months after our author visit. Imbolo had some really interesting insights on class and immigration in the US, especially because she is a debut novelist and Behold the Dreamers was inspired by people that she saw everyday living in New York. We were so lucky to have her be a part of our One Book initiative last year and I highly recommend her to other libraries and institutions who are seeking a meaningful dialogue within their communities.
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