Imbolo Mbue was born in Limbe, Cameroon in 1983. Her area of Cameroon had been previously colonized by Great Britain, and when she was 17 she came to the United States with a sponsorship from her aunt. She became a U.S. Citizen in 2014, and lived in Chicago for a few months before moving to New Jersey and earning her B. A. in business administration from Rutgers University and then Columbia University for an M. A. Eleven years after immigrating to the United States, Mbue was inspired to begin writing after reading a copy of Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon.” Prior, she had neither formal training nor experience writing. Mbue published her debut novel Behold the Dreamers in 2016. Before publication, her book was rejected for three years by various agents. Behold the Dreamers was published by Random House and sold for at least $1 million. A Sony Pictures spokesman said that Sony’s TriStar Pictures acquired the film rights, with George Clooney and Grant Heslov of Smokehouse Pictures producing. Though there has been talk about turning Behold the Dreamers into a movie, to this point neither production nor talk of beginning it have happened.
Behold the Dreamers has been translated into 11 languages, adapted into an opera, and is about to become a stage play in addition to the potential for a movie. She currently lives in New York City — she started in Harlem and now lives in downtown Manhattan — and has been a professor at Columbia University. She says that her character, Vince Edwards, was largely based off of her students she was teaching at Columbia. She considers herself to be a fan of tennis and she still uses a Discman, and she is grateful to the women who made sacrifices before her so that she can have the freedom she does today.
The 11 languages her book has been translated into: French, Dutch, German, Czech, Polish, Serbian, Russian, Greek, Hebrew, Portuguese, and Danish. There is also various cover art for Behold the Dreamers. As of August 2016 and to her displeasure, Behold the Dreamers still has not been published in her birthplace, Cameroon.
Meet the Author: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUJcL8mlLcs
Quotes by Imbolo Mbue
“I was born in a small village outside a town called Limbe. When I was about 8 years old, my mother sent me to live with an aunt who had a lot of books in her house. I read Shakespeare and Dickens and a lot of African writers, like Chinua Achebe. I came to America when I was about 17 to go to Rutgers University in New Jersey.”
“I meet so many young people of color. They come to me and say, ‘I am so glad to see you doing this.’ It’s challenging, but we have so many opportunities to have our voices heard. Tell the story you have to tell.”
“It matters to really go deep and see what you need to say. Let the world in. Let the world see what it’s like for us.”
- PEN/Faulkner Fiction Award 2017 for $15,000
- Blue Metropolis Words to Change Award
- Notable Book of the Year by NYT and the Washington Post
- Oprah’s Book Club
“About Imbolo Mbue.” Imbolo Mbue
“Behold the Rags-to-Riches Story of Another Dreamer: Imbolo Mbue.” Hindustan Times, HT Media Limited. 14 Sept. 2016.
Carnegie Corporation. “Imbolo Mbue.” Carnegie Corporation of New York
Charles, Ron. “Debut Novelist Imbolo Mbue Wins PEN/Faulkner Fiction Award.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 4 Apr. 2017
Maloney, J. (2016, Aug 18). Imbolo mbue tracks the 2008 crisis through immigrant eyes; imbolo mbue’s debut novel, ‘behold the dreamers’ follows how the fallout from the financial crisis hits two families. Wall Street Journal (Online)
McGillis, I. “Blue Metropolis Star Imbolo Mbue Retells, and Lives, the American Dream.” Montreal Gazette, Postmedia Network Inc., 28 Apr. 2017, montrealgazette.com/entertainment/books/blue-metropolis-star-imbolo-mbue-retells-and-lives-the-american-dream.
“Imbolo Mbue.” Imbolo Mbue | Bookreporter.com
Her quotes from:
Williams, L. N. (2017, 02). IMBOLO MBUE. Essence, 47, 68. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1862963908?accountid=10457
Sydney Gualtieri & Grace McKenna ’19