Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

InstaBox_20174419164725

Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers has won the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award and she is the first African author to do this. The Cameroonian’s debut novel beat competition from Viet Dinh’s After Disasters, Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You, Louise Erdrich’s LaRose, and Sunil Yapa’s Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist—a shortlist that has been described as “a sign of new diversity in books.”

The $15,000 award, given by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, prides itself as “America’s largest peer-juried prize for fiction.” In 2016, Julie Iromuanya’s Mr. and Mrs. Doctor was shortlisted.

Imbolo Mbue became famous when the manuscript for Behold the Dreamers, then titled The Longings of Jende Jonga, earned her a $1 million advance. The novel was named one of the best books of 2016 by several top publications, including The New York Times Book Review, NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Guardian. Here is a description of the book by its publishers Penguin Random House.

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.
When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

Mbue will receive her award on May 6 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington. The other finalists will each receive $5,000.

On the judging panel is Chris Abani who, alongside Chantel Acevedo and Sigrid Nunez, considered about 500 novels and story collections published by Americans in 2016.

Congratulations to Imbolo Mbue! We are excited for her.

Tags: , ,

About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he sits on the judging panels of The Miles Morland Writing Scholarships and of The Gerald Kraak Prize. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

2 Responses to “Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers Makes Her the First African to Win the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction” Subscribe

  1. Agoziem April 6, 2017 at 2:35 pm #

    Congrats to Imbolo Mbue. Cheers!!!

  2. Agoziem April 6, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

    Oh Imbolo Mbue! I actually drink to this…

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

The 2019 Brittle Paper Awards: Announcing The Winners

The 2019 BP Awards Winners

In November, we announced The 5 Shortlists for The 2019 Brittle Paper Awards. Launched in 2017 to mark our seventh anniversary, The […]

This Blood That Not Even the Mountains Can Hold: Megan Ross Rereads Sarah Godsell’s Liquid Bones

sarah godsell - liquid bones - graph

“this country of blood” It is just under a year since Impepho Press published Sarah Godsell’s second poetry collection, Liquid […]

On Transatlantic Shame | I. S. Jones | Poetry

gage-walker-CCFCMb1Defk-unsplash

nothing is earned unless something is lost. the ocean grants safe passage, but i fear the cost is too great. […]

The 2019 Brittle Paper Award for Poetry: Meet The 5 Finalists

BP Award for Poetry graph (2)

The 5 Shortlists for The 2019 Brittle Paper Awards were announced in November. Begun in 2017 to mark our seventh anniversary, the Awards […]

The 2019 Brittle Paper Anniversary Award: Meet The 6 Finalists

BP Anniversary Award graph

The 5 Shortlists for The 2019 Brittle Paper Awards were announced in November. Begun in 2017 to mark our seventh anniversary, the Awards […]

The 2019 Brittle Paper Award for Creative Nonfiction: Meet The 4 Finalists

BP Award for Creative Nonfiction graph

The 5 Shortlists for The 2019 Brittle Paper Awards were announced in November. Begun in 2017 to mark our seventh anniversary, the Awards […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.