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Publisher's Summary

Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, 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 to the villagers 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.

©2020 Imbolo Mbue (P)2020 Canongate Books Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A formidable storyteller." (Jonathan Franzen)

What listeners say about How Beautiful We Were

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  • sue winstanley
  • 09-21-21

Very sad but interesting story

Although it was an interesting story, I got bored and couldn't wait to finish the book.

The different perspectives of the narrative drove the storyline along nicely, but I think it was a bit too long.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-04-21

Beautiful and heartbreaking

A beautiful and heartbreaking narrative, that rings with truth about the intergeneral damage caused by the colonial and post-colonial world.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-20-21

Excellent listening

I was hooked from the beginning. Sadly this story still happens. In the south of Nigeria where crude oil is extracted is polluted and destroyed. The Nigerian government is too corrupt to care.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-08-21

What a story

Taken on a journey on the lives of these characters. Some powerful themes and messages to consider. Melancholic & beautifully written. The narrators do an excellent job telling the story.

Would recommend