How Beautiful We Were
A PEN/FAULKNER AWARD FINALIST
'Sweeping and quietly devastating' New York Times
'A David and Goliath story for our times' O, the Oprah Magazine
Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, this is the story of a people living in fear amidst environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company.…
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Why read it?
4 authors picked How Beautiful We Were as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
What does environmental racism look like? Read How Beautiful We Were by Imobolo Mbue for a vital, searing answer. An American oil company is destroying the land and water of the fictional village of Kosawa. Children are dying. The company does this because they can, spouting only empty words about restitution. The novel narrates the village’s fight back, using alternating points of view to electric, pulsing effect.
The Cameroonian-American author Imbolo Mbue writes about an oil-rich African nation that avails itself to corruption and ecological disaster when it welcomes an American petrochemical company to conduct business freely. The novel focusses on one village and an often futile attempts to resist, with one young woman rising to international fame—but it also tells the too common story of how corporations succeed in bending an entire people to their will with wickedly false promises
I love how this book is largely told in first-person plural, the “we.” It models for all of us how the climate crisis will require all of us to…
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