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Behold the Dreamers follows a Cameroonian couple who, as newcomers to America, harbor dreams of success unavailable to them back home. Undocumented immigration, the widening gulf between rich and poor, and the thinly veiled racism of an avowedly "post-racial" culture converge in this new generation of immigrants' painful encounter with the American dream. I consider the ways Mbue's novel shares themes with a "second wave" of post- 9/11 literature—first, in centering the disillusionment of a protagonist aspiring to the American dream; next, in its representation of New York as a space haunted by 9/11, but also of resistance to the state; and last, through a failed white-savior narrative, culminating in the expulsion of racialized bodies from the West, that debunks the notion of the post-racial society. Shedding light on how 9/11's political and affective wake pervades Mbue's novel leads to my reassessment of how post-9/11 literature is understood as a genre.



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