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How Beautiful We Were de Imbolo Mbue

How Beautiful We Were (edição: 2021)

de Imbolo Mbue (Autor)

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
1316160,168 (4.24)9
Título:How Beautiful We Were
Autores:Imbolo Mbue (Autor)
Informação:Random House (2021), 384 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Etiquetas:novel, africa, signed

Detalhes da Obra

How Beautiful We Were de Imbolo Mbue

Adicionado recentemente porvivians, biblioteca privada, wanack, coopbooks, FelinesAndFelonies, dshamban, hpgraham, DrFuriosa

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Exibindo 5 de 5
Beautiful and moving but sometimes a bit distant in the passages related through letters.
  Unreachableshelf | Apr 20, 2021 |
How Beautiful We Were is a novel about an African village that is exploited by an American oil company. The story follows a member of the village, Thula, from childhood to adulthood, as she takes a stand against the company and the sickness and death that it brings to her village.

The prose in this book is beautiful. It is an emotional, painful exploration of clashing cultures, colonialism, and the culture, beliefs and superstitions of the villagers, the government, and the American company. This book is filled with atmosphere and emotion, with a slow moving, slightly meandering plot. The plot at times feels a little sparce, I think possibly because of the scale of the story. The switching perspectives between individual characters and the village children as a collective is interesting. I don't think I've read a novel with a group as a single narrator before. I did find that I didn't always connect to the characters. I sometimes felt like I was being kept at a distance, or that I didn't get enough time with each person before the point of view changed.

My favourite character was Sahel, Thula's mother, and I liked the chapter from her perspective the best. Her point of view really interested me, her decisions and opinions, and her experiences with grief, desire and parenting. ( )
  crimsonraider | Apr 1, 2021 |
For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: https://www.ManOfLaBook.com

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue is a multi-generational saga taking place in a small African village, being ravaged by an American oil company. Ms. Mbue is an award-winning writer, this is her second novel.

In the early 1980s, the fictional village of Kosawa, in an unnamed African dictatorship, kidnap the representatives of Pexton, an American oil company. To clarify, for decades Pexton, has destroyed Kosawa’s environment with oil spills, poisoned water & air. Not surprisingly, self-sufficient village finds itself in the mercy of a corrupt corporation, with a corrupt government unwilling to help, turning a blind eye from decades of dead children for a few dollars.

Thula grew up in Kosawa, is inspired by books with revolutionary themes. Through an NGO that specifically took up Kosawa’s cause, Thula gets a scholarship to study in American. In college and afterwards, Thula becomes an activist, above all to help Kosawa and her people.

The story is told from several points of view, significantly from one just titled “The Children”. This collective voice gives an idea of the undeniably communal hardship being suffered.

he past tense of the title, How Beautiful We Were, is already an ominous sign that this will not be the usual book. Nevertheless, this novel is beautiful and somewhat upsetting, especially to western eyes.

A heartbreaking part of the novel was Kosawa’s villagers unlimited faith. In particular, they truly believed that they could explain their plight to the right people at Pexton, they would care. Those in power would right all the wrongs they’ve been subjecting them to the past several decades.

Hence, during a meeting with the company’s representatives, the village’s madman, in a rare moment of clarity, holds them hostage until they can get some answers. And so the story begins.

Imbolo Mbue clearly finds communal living beneficial, however she does not romanticize it. By comparison, life in an Israeli kibbutz can be very similar, with emotional ranges and no consensus, even though certainly a more comfortable existence.

The novel is, in a word, fatalistic. Undoubtedly the villagers are fighting a lost cause, but they don’t know it – and it’s a punch to the gut. The David vs. Goliath story slowly morphs into a nuanced philosophical conflict on how to stop a slow moving giant wheel. An impossibility from the beginning to the very end.

Blame is shifted from an unethical corporation to a careless government is. Without a doubt, one of the disturbing themes of the book, among several. The reader, not surprisingly, would like to shout at the villagers. They’re playing a game, not knowing the rules which are, coincidentally, consistently changing.

All in all the novel was thoroughly thought through, the author doesn’t throw things together hoping they stick. She casts a wide net, and bring them all together to form a coherent story. ( )
1 vote ZoharLaor | Mar 29, 2021 |
Although challenging the second novel from PEN/Faulkner Award winner, Imobolo Mbue tells the story of an African village who agreed to allowing a corrupt American oil company drill, without regulation on their land. After the death of several children, the village madman, in a moment of clear thinking takes the company man captive. The story does not end here. A young girl, Thula, who witnessed what happened is offered and chance to study in the US. She writes back to friends encouraging them to fight what has happened to them. She also makes the connection of what is happening in US towns struggling with poverty. Mbue’s ability to deeply carve out the personalities of the various voices telling the story is stunning. She has given a strong voice to villagers trying to save themselves, their heritage and their village. ( )
  brangwinn | Mar 9, 2021 |
One angry woman did everything, and she failed.~from How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

I read Imbolo Mbue's first novel Behold the Dreamers as a galley and for book club. I jumped at the chance to read her second novel, How Beautiful We Were.

Was money so important that they would sell children to strangers seeking oil?~from How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

The novel is about an African village struggling for environmental justice, powerless, caught between an American oil company and a corrupt dictatorship government.

They are proud people, connected to the land of their ancestors. They have lived simple, subsistence lives, full of blessings. Until the oil company ruined their water, their land, their air. A generation of children watch their peers dying from poisoned water. Their pleas for help are in vain.

School-aged Thula is inspired by books, including The Communist Manifesto, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and The Wretched of the Earth. "They were her closest friends," spurring her into activist causes when she goes to America to study. In America and becomes an activist. Meanwhile, her peers in her home village lose faith in the process and take up terrorism.

How could we have been so reckless as to dream?~from How Beautiful We Were by Mbolo Mbue

The fictional village, its inhabitants and history, is so well drawn I could believe it taken from life. The viewpoint shifts among the characters.

We wondered if America was populated with cheerful people like that overseer, which made it hard for us to understand them: How could they be happy when we were dying for their sake?~from How Beautiful We Were by Mbolo Mbue

The fate of the village and its country are an indictment to Western colonialism and capitalism. Slaves, rubber, oil--people came and exploited Africa for gain. (And of course, it was not just Africa...) In the end, they lose their traditions and ancestral place as the children become educated and take jobs with Western corporations and the government.

This story must be told, it might not feel good to all ears, it gives our mouths no joy to sat it, but our story cannot be left untold.~from How Beautiful We Were by Mbolo Mbue

This is not an easy book for an American to read. It reminds us of the many ways our country has failed and continues to fail short of the ideal we hope it is. And not just abroad--we have failed our children here in America.

I was given access to a free ebook by the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased. ( )
  nancyadair | May 12, 2020 |
Exibindo 5 de 5
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