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How Beautiful We Were


Imbolo Mbue
How Beautiful We Were

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. Her new novel, How Beautiful We Were, is about what happened when a fictional African village decided to fight against an against American oil company that had been polluting its land for many years. A native of Limbe, Cameroon, and a graduate of Rutgers and Columbia Universities, Mbue lives in New York. 

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Clare Morgana Gillis
Windham World Affairs Council

Clare Morgana Gillis is the Chairperson of Windham World Affairs Council. She received her Ph.D. in Medieval History from Harvard U. in 2010. Gillis has worked as a journalist in Libya and Syria and has taught history and Modern Middle Eastern studies at Marlboro College and Dartmouth College. She is now Professor of History at Landmark College.

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Imbolo Mbue’s powerful second novel, How Beautiful We Were is set in the fictional African village of Kosawa and 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. Their struggle will last for decades and come at a steep price. Mbue will be in conversation with Clare Morgana Gillis who is the Vice Chairperson of Windham World Affairs Council. 

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