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Most Anticipated Fiction, Spring 2021

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    9780593132449 9780593229163 9780593209950 CD-Audio, $60 CAD 9780593213308 Paperback / softback, Trade, , $40 CAD 9780593209943 Downloadable audio file 9780593132432 Electronic book text, Reflowable, , EPUB
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    Distributor: Penguin Random House Availability: Available On Sale Date:Mar 09, 2021 Carton Quantity:12
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How Beautiful We Were
A Novel
By (author): Imbolo Mbue
9780593132425 Hardcover English General Trade FICTION / Literary Mar 09, 2021
$37.00 CAD
Active 6.37 x 9.53 x 1.29 in | 1.33 lb 384 pages Random House
From the celebrated author of the New York Times bestseller Behold the Dreamers comes a sweeping, wrenching story about the collision of a small African village and an American oil company.

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 interest. 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.

Story Locale: West Africa

BESTSELLING PEN/FAULKNER AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR: Mbue’s debut novel, Behold the Dreamers, was an Oprah’s Book Club pick; the winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award; an ALA Notable Book; longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award; and named one of the best books of the year by NPR, NYTBR, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, Kirkus Reviews, and more.

AUTHOR CONNECTION TO MATERIAL: Imbolo Mbue grew up in Limbe, Cameroon, a town with an oil refinery. She has been working on this novel for seventeen years. It is informed by personal experiences, and takes on extremely relevant issues of corporate greed, globalization, and corruption.

PRAISE FOR BEHOLD THE DREAMERS: “A debut novel by a young woman from Cameroon that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse…Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller.” —The Washington Post; “A capacious, big-hearted novel.”—The New York Times Book Review; “A novel that 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.”—NPR; “Who is this Imbolo Mbue and where has she been hiding? Her writing is startlingly beautiful, thoguhtful, and both timely and timeless.”—Jaqueline Woodson

Imbolo Mbue is 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. A native of Limbe, Cameroon, and a graduate of Rutgers and Columbia Universities, Imbolo Mbue lives in New York City.

Author Residence: New York City

Author Hometown: Limbe, Cameroon

Marketing: Advance reader’s edition

Pre-pub consumer outreach and review push

National advertising campaign

Online marketing outreach

Social media and influencer campaign

Targeted email marketing

Random House e-newsletters and websites

Major book club outreach

Reading group guide online

Library outreach



Publicity: National media attention

National/local review and feature print attention

National/local radio attention

Online review and feature attention

NPR campaign

Local author promotion: New York

“Sweeping and quietly devastating... How Beautiful We Were charts the ways repression, be it at the hands of a government or a corporation or a society, can turn the most basic human needs into radical and radicalizing acts. . . . Profoundly affecting.”—The New York Times Book Review (cover review)

“Mbue reaches for the moon and . . . has it firmly held in her hands.”NPR

“What a stunningly beautiful writer Mbue is, and how lucky we are to have her stories in the world.”
—USA Today

“It’s a heartbreaking and relevant story that seeps into your bones, quickly engulfs you and doesn’t let go.”—The Seattle Times

“Superb.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Tragic, wrenching . . . The people of Kosawa sear themselves into your consciousness.”—The Boston Globe

“Imbolo Mbue crafts an aching narrative about greed, community and perseverance.”—Time (best books of March 2021)

“Mbue’s remarkable storytelling makes this book shine.”Ms.

This epic and empathetic saga shines a truthful albeit unflattering light on globalization.”Shelf Awareness

“Insightful, heart-stirring”The Philadelphia Inquirer

“A generation of narrative voices, many of them children, shape this sweeping, elegiac story of capitalism, colonialism, and boundless greed, reminding us of the myriad ways we fail to make a better world for our children.”Esquire

“A David and Goliath story for our times, a riveting tale of how people coming together to make change can topple even the fiercest, best-financed foe.”O: The Oprah Magazine (most anticipated books of 2021)

“Imbolo Mbue’s revelatory novel of a fictional African village ruined by Big Oil is a mighty addition to the stacks.”Elle (most anticipated books of 2021)

“Among the many virtues of Mbue’s novel is the way it uses an ecological nightmare to frame a vivid and stirring picture of human beings’ asserting their value to the world, whether the world cares about them or not. One can both grieve for Kosawa and be inspired by its determined fight for life.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

How Beautiful We Were will enthrall you, appall you, and show you what is possible when a few people stand up and say, ‘This is not right.’ It is a masterful novel by a spellbinding writer engaged with the most urgent questions of our day.”—David Ebershoff, bestselling author of The Danish Girl

“Imbolo Mbue has given us a novel with the richness and power of a great contemporary fable, and a heroine for our time.”—Sigrid Nunez, author of The Friend, winner of the National Book Award

“Imbolo Mbue is a storyteller of astonishing gifts. How Beautiful We Were reminds me of how interconnected we remain, no matter who or where we are.”—Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

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