2018 Great Immigrants Recipient

Imbolo Mbue
Author, PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
Born in:
Cameroon

“I started writing this book when I was unemployed. I had lost my job at the end of the financial crisis,” author Imbolo Mbue said of her debut novel “Behold the Dreamers,” on PBS NewsHour in 2017. It tells the story of an immigrant couple from West Africa working for a wealthy New York family as the Great Recession is about to hit in 2008. A New York Times bestseller, “Behold the Dreamers,” won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Blue Metropolis Words to Change Award and was an Oprah's Book Club selection. It was named a Notable Book of the Year by “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post.” It has been translated into 10 languages, adapted into an opera, and optioned for a movie. She says, "I think people can read my book and use it as pro-immigration or use it as an anti-immigration argument. My place is to tell the story honestly and completely. But I think that it is important to understand each other’s stories. It’s so easy to put people in a box and say, 'Oh, people without any papers,' but who are these people, what are their stories?" Updated July 2018