‘How Beautiful We Were’ by Imbolo Mbue: A Vast Landscape

by Owen Torrey

In one telling, the story might begin here: the children started getting sick, and nobody knew why. At first, two died within a month. Before long, several more got feverish, then stopped being able to speak, and, soon after, to breathe. Surely, it was said, there must be a common cause. But what was shared between these children? Only the irreducible things: the ground they walked over, the air they breathed, the water they drew from the village well—right where the pipelines ran. When Imbolo Mbue’s second novel How Beautiful We Were (364 pages; Random House) begins, these things have […]

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