Imbolo Mbue

Kiriko Sano

Imbolo Mbue

Past Event: Friday, June 7, 2019

At Town Hall Seattle

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Women You Need to Know

A native of the seaside town of Limbe, Cameroon, Imbolo Mbue is the author of the bestselling debut Behold the Dreamers, the story of a young Cameroonian couple whose new lives in New York are upended by the Great Recession. The novel won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, was an Oprah’s Book Club selection, and was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The Q&A for this event will be moderated by actress, writer, and playwright, Minita Gandhi.

After reading Imbolo Mbue’s debut, National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson remarked: “Who is this Imbolo Mbue and where has she been hiding?” This is the question many were asking themselves when Mbue’s manuscript lit up the literary community in 2014.

Behold the Dreamers tells the story of Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem who lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers, in the fall of 2007. Jende hopes the new job will enable him, his adored wife, Neni, and his young son, to live a better life in America. When Neni is hired as a household help by Clark’s wife, their situation only improves. But in the course of their work, Jende and Neni begin to witness infidelities, skirmishes, and family secrets. Desperate to shield the fragile life they’ve built in New York, the Jongas protect their employers, even when the wealthy couple’s secrets begin to drive a wedge between Jende and Neni. Then, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, all four lives are dramatically upended, and Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

Mbue’s book is informed by her experience of being an African immigrant and the experiences of immigrants from around the world who shared their stories with her. Like Jende and Neni, she grew up in Limbe, Cameroon before moving to the U.S. in 1998. She holds a B.S. from Rutgers University and an M.A. from Columbia University. She lives in New York City.

A self-taught writer who learned by reading great fiction authors like Toni Morrison and Jonathan Franzen, Imbolo Mbue will speak about her writing process and how her own life experiences shaped her debut novel.

Minita Gandhi is an actress, playwright, writer who was born in Mumbai, India. Raised primarily in San Francisco, she is proud to have called Chicago her artistic home for over 8 years. MUTHALAND is her first full length play. It was workshopped at Silk Road Rising for their Solo Festival, selected for the Ignition Festival of new plays at Victory Gardens Theater, and invited to the Raven Theater for a special performance sponsored by the Indo-American Heritage Museum. She can be seen in the recurring role of Dr. Prospere on NBC’s Chicago Fire, and has appeared on Fox’s hit show Empire, NBC’s Crisis, ABC’s Betrayal, Fox’s The Chicago Code, and was The Onion News Network’s anchor, Nina Shankar. She is a proud pledge host with PBS for their WTTW Chicago affiliate station Channel 11.  Minita has worked at a number of regional theaters across the country including Berkeley Repertory Theater, The Arena Stage, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and Lookingglass Theater. She has been directed by Tony award winning adaptor and director Mary Zimmermann, and originated the role of Priya, in Silk Road Rising’s World Premiere production of Rajiv Joseph’s, The Lake Effect. She travels with the corporate comedy improv troupe, Wavelength, and is a Master Trainer for Pinnacle Performance training executives in communication all over the world.

Event Details

Town Hall Seattle

1119 8th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

Town Hall Seattle is centrally located at 1119 8th Ave, on the corner of 8th and Seneca. Their venue is served by frequent bus routes, is near access to light rail stations, and close to a number of parking options nearby. Please see their website for more details.

Accessibility

Open Captioning is an option for people who have hearing losses, where a captioning screen displaying the words that are spoken or sung is placed on stage. To make a request for open captioning, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10. For digital streams of online events, all pre-recorded and live online events will have either open or closed captioning. Please note: for in-person events at Town Hall Seattle, we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure captioning services. 

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are devices that people with hearing loss use in conjunction with their hearing device (hearing aids or cochlear implants). Town Hall Seattle has a hearing loop system, so you can switch your T-coil hearing aid to telecoil to have the stage’s microphones transmitted directly to your hearing aids. To pick up a headset, check in with any Town Hall usher when you arrive.

Sign Language Interpretation is available upon request for Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing individuals. To make a request for interpretation, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10, or select “Sign Language Interpretation” from the Accessibility section during your ticket checkout process and we will contact you to confirm details. Please note: we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure interpretation

Wheelchair Accessible Seating and Accessible Restrooms are available in all sections at Town Hall Seattle, which is fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. Town Hall Seattle recommends that visitors use the 8th Avenue Entrance for events in the Great Hall, and elevators with Braille signage go to all levels within the Hall. The venue has all-gender, ADA-accessible restrooms on the lobby and Forum level. To reserve seating for a specific mobility concern, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10, or select “Wheelchair Accessible or Alternative Seating Options” during ticket checkout, and we will contact you to confirm details. For more details on accessibility features at Town Hall, click here.

Guide and service dogs are welcome.

All-gender restrooms are available.

We are pleased to offer these accessibility services at our venues, and they are provided at no additional cost to ticket holders. Please contact us with any questions and feedback about how we can be more accessible and inclusive. Our Patron Services Manager is available at boxoffice@lectures.org, or Monday-Friday from 10:00am – 5:00pm at 206.621.2230×10.

For more accessibility information, please head to lectures.org/accessibility. If you would like to make accessibility arrangements you do not see listed here, please contact our box office or select “Other Accommodations” from the Accessibility section during your ticket checkout process, and we will contact you to confirm details.

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