"How Beautiful We Were" By Imbolo Mbue
Note: This is an encore edition of Reader's Corner. The episode originally aired in August 2021.
“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.
Imbolo Mbue is the author of the New York Times bestseller Behold the Dreamers, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, among other honors. The novel has been translated into eleven languages, adapted into an opera and a stage play, and optioned for a movie.