Imbolo Mbue wins 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for debut novel Behold the Dreamers

Imbolo Mbue has won the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for her debut novel Behold the Dreamers.

The $15,000  award honours the best published works of fiction by American citizens in a calendar year. Previous winners include EL Doctorow (twice), Don DeLillo, Ha Jin (twice), E Annie Proulx, Philip Roth (three times), Richard Ford and John Updike.

From the prize website:

Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel, Behold the Dreamers, covers the struggle of immigrants longing to become American citizens, the stark divide between rich and poor, and the global financial crisis following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. At the center of the novel is Jende Jonge, a Cameroonian immigrant who takes a job as a personal chauffeur for Clark Edwards, an executive at Lehman Brothers. It opens a window into a world of astounding privilege. Even as he works his way through immigration court, Jende remains aggressively optimistic about the promise of America, and soon his wife too has begun working for the Clark family. But in the days before the historic 2008 election, as Lehman Brothers declares bankruptcy, the cracks in the Clark family begin to show — as do the things that make this country both blessed and doomed.  Michael Schaub, in his review on NPR, writes that Behold the Dreamers is a story with “no false notes, no narrative shortcuts, and certainly no manufactured happy endings.”

This year’s panel of judges was Chris Abani, Chantel Acevedo and Sigrid Nunez.

The finalists, who each receive $5,000, are:

  • Viet Dinh for After Disasters
  • Louise Erdrich for LaRose
  • Garth Greenwell for What Belongs to You
  • Sunil Yapa for Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist


Categories Fiction International

Tags Awards Behold the Dreamers Imbolo Mbue PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

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