Winner of the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. A novel exploring the struggles of two New York couples — one white and affluent, the other poor Cameroonian immigrants — during the 2008 financial crisis.
Mbue’s narrative energy and sympathetic eye soon render these commonplace ingredients vivid, complex, and essential ... though her black characters provide practical and emotional succor to her white ones, especially as the two families further entwine, professionally and personally, she also effectively and pointedly keeps them at the center of the story, a narrative accomplishment too many white authors are still unable to achieve ... [a] beautiful, empathetic novel.
...illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse ...Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller, inflecting her own voice with the tenor of her characters’ thoughts and speech. She can enjoy the comedy of their naivete without subjecting them to mockery ... There’s a persistent warmth in this book, a species of faith that’s too often singed away by wit in contemporary fiction. For all its comedy, Mbue’s social commentary never develops that toxic level of irony.
Mbue writes with great confidence and warmth, effortlessly inhabiting the minds of both Jende and his wife ... There are a lot of spinning plates, and Mbue balances them skillfully, keeping everything in motion ... And yet, while the novel’s setup is rich with possibility, Mbue doesn’t always make the most of it ... Even so, Behold the Dreamers is a capacious, big-hearted novel.