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Words from a Wider World: Imbolo Mbue

Words from a Wider World: Imbolo Mbue

Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, Imbolo Mbue's How Beautiful We Were tells the story of a people living in fear amidst environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of clean-up and financial reparations are made - and ignored. The country's government, led by a brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interest only. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. But their fight will come at a steep price. One which generation after generation will have to pay.

Told through the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula, How Beautiful We Were is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community's determination to hold onto its ancestral land and a young woman's willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people's freedom.

This event is only available as part of the Folkestone Book Festival Digital Pass. By booking a Digital Pass you'll be able to access all the talks and events and revisit anything you missed for up to a week after the festival.


Imbolo Mbue's first book, Behold The Dreamers, was a New York Times bestseller and won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Oprah Winfrey choose it as an Oprah Book Club pick and it's been translated into eleven languages, adapted into an opera and a stage play, and has been optioned for a miniseries.

A native of Limbe, Cameroon, Mbue lives in New York City.

Imbolo Mbue is a storyteller of astonishing gifts. How Beautiful We Were reminds me of how interconnected we remain, no matter who or where we are.
- Tracey K. Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Life On Mars

A formidable storyteller.
- Jonathan Franzen

This year the Festival will be presented online and in-person wherever possible and in line with the latest government guidance. You can find more information about the Festival here.

This event is a Folkestone Book Festival screened event at Quarterhouse. Speakers will be streamed live from their homes to our auditorium for a limited audience. All events can also be enjoyed online as part of our Digital Pass.

Creative Folkestone Book Festival is made possible thanks to the generous support of our funders and partners. We are proud to welcome the return of NewsNow as our Principal Partner for the Creative Folkestone Book Festival.


Mill Bay,
CT20 1BN

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Streamed as part of Book Festival Digital Pass

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