Monthly – Second Saturday | 11 am | Via Zoom
On Saturday morning, November 13, 2021, the Riverside Book Club is partnering with Riverside’s own Beloved Earth Community, to review Dr. Imbolo Mbue’s How Beautiful We Were.The Beloved Earth Community members are activists for the environment, with a special interest in Climate Change. The novel’s story line takes place in a fictional African village that is being ravaged by the vicissitudes of climate change.
In spite of resistance from “Climate Change Deniers”, scientists have reached a consensus about the realities of climate change. They have documented concurrent related forest fires, hurricanes, floods and melting glaciers. They have noted parallel increases in the emission of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels, and have noted the roles of corporations, particularly in global settings of the poor. While recognizing that the crisis is global, author Imbolo Mbue, in her novel How Beautiful We Were brilliantly illustrates the particular impact of climate change on African families, particularly those who reside in rural agricultural communities.
“We should have known the end was near. So begins Imbolo Mbue’s powerful second novel, How Beautiful We Were. Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, it tells of a people living in fear amid environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of cleanup and financial reparations to the villagers are made—and ignored. The country’s government, led by a brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interests. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. Their struggle will last for decades and come at a steep price.”
Told from the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula who grows up to become a revolutionary, How Beautiful We Were is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community’s determination to hold on to its ancestral land and a young woman’s willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people’s freedom.”
AUTHOR, IMBOLO MBUE
IMBOLO MBUEis the author of the New York Times bestseller Behold the Dreamers, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. The novel has been translated into eleven languages, adapted into an opera and a stage play, and optioned for a miniseries. Her new novel, How Beautiful We Were, is about what happened when a fictional African village decided to fight against an American oil company that had been polluting its land for many years.
A native of Limbe, Cameroon, and a graduate of Rutgers and Columbia Universities, Mbue lives in New York. Mbue was born in 1981 in Limbe, where she was raised until family sponsored her higher education studies in the United States. She has stated that coming to America made her realize that she “had to learn to stand up, to stand out. I had to learn to be bolder. I don’t put up with things here that I would have in Limbe.”
In 2014 she signed a million-dollar deal with Random House for her debut book Behold the Dreamers, which was published in 2016. The novel garnered critical acclaim for, according to NPR, the way it “depicts a country both blessed and doomed, on top of the world, but always at risk of losing its balance. It is, in other words, quintessentially American.” In 2017, the novel was selected by Oprah Winfrey for her book club.