Fiammetta Rocco in The Economist:
An advance of $1m for any novel is extraordinary; when the book is an unfinished first novel by a young, out-of-work immigrant from Cameroon, something big is happening. Imbolo Mbue (above), whose “Behold the Dreamers” came out recently, is part of a wave of new literature from Africa, much of it written by immigrants to America. “I wanted to write about what it’s like to be working class,” says the author, who was employed in market research in New York until she lost her job in the financial crisis. “To be struggling with poverty, to be barely getting by in America. I wanted to write about what it’s like to be an immigrant. I wanted to write about me.”
Great African literature has come in waves. The first was in the 1950s, led by Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”, which was published in 1958, has sold more than 12m copies and has never been out of print. The experience of colonialism spawned some extraordinary writing; and, as colonial guilt took hold, there was a receptive audience in the rich world. A second wave began after the end of the cold war, when the West’s interest in foreign parts shifted away from proxy wars and moral politics. A far more personal engagement with individual countries and their peoples began to take hold. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian writer, is the most celebrated of this generation: her “Purple Hibiscus”, which came out in 2003, made her famous. Just as Gabriel García Márquez led the surge of interest in Latin American fiction in the 1970s, so too have Chimamanda and her fellow writers from Africa done today.