What Is The What? is a collaborative effort. Written as though it were an autobiography of a Sudanese refugee named Valentino Achak Deng, What...? is still classified as a fictional novel. As stated in the introduction, Deng told the story of his life to Eggers over the course of a few years. Eggers then wrote the novel based on the real life events. The clasification as fiction could be due in part to the fall-out from "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey. In any case, Eggers weaves the story and brings the characters to life in a way that Deng probably wouldn't have been able to.
Eggers writes the story as though Deng is speaking with particular people- telling the story of his life to people who have made an impact in his life in one way or another. This lends a very personal, deep tone to the story and served to draw me in. As anyone who's paid any attention to the news about Darfur knows, there was no choice but for this book to be a major tear-jerker. By page 10 I had already cried twice. The trend continued and I wept like a grieving mother throughout the entire story.
I would highly suggest this novel to any Eggers fan, those interested in the crisis in the Sudan as well as anyone who enjoyed The Kite Runner and other such books. It is truely a beautifully written, highly moving story and I feel enriched by reading it.
Dave Eggers wrote the autobiography of Valentino Achack Deng; a sincere and heart-wrenching tale of a young boy from Marial Bai engulfed in the civil war that tore the country of Sudan apart. It is this man's tale of escaping from death, becoming a part of the Lost Boys, living in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps and journeying to America. It is the story of a boy becoming a man in a rapidly changing world. It is a story of a country losing its culture and future. It is a story about survival. … more
Spoiler Alert: Plot elements were used Every child finds his or her own coming-of-age process in a gradual acculturation with common surroundings. A heavy representation of this process is linked to one’s name, designating the essence and nature of any certain individual. In his novel What is the What, Dave Eggers addresses the Achak’s multiple names to stress his struggle with maturing into a stable identity. Achak starts his life journey … more
Beginning with a naively trusting man being robbed and beaten by criminals who were invited in after pleading to use the phone, "What Is The What" grabs you from the get-go, both by the plot and by the matter-of-fact and stark voice of a Sudanese refugee in which the story is told. Not resembling Egger's other works at all, "What Is The What" is the memoir of Valentino Achak Deng, as told to Eggers in numerous interviews and conversations, and the fact that the story leaves … more
"What Is the What" is Dave Eggers' fictionalized biography of Valentino Achak Deng's Sudanese experience. If most of the events were not true or at least based upon actual experiences, the horrors exposed would be hard to be. As is, they are hard to stomach. So much of today's biographical and autobiographical writing is "Yuppie Angst" (rich, spoiled brats crying about their hangnails). Here we find real suffering. Because of its geographical setting and religious backdrop, "What Is the What" also … more
I work for a wholesale travel agency when I'm not Lunching (ok, sometimes when I am). No, this does not mean I can hook you up with a free hotel. It does mean I can hook myself up witha free hotel, so … more
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As a boy, Deng is separated from his family during the Second Sudanese Civil War when the Arab militia, referred to as murahaleen (which is Arabic for traveller), wipes out his Dinka village. He flees on foot with a group of other young boys, (the "Lost Boys"), encountering great danger and terrible hardship along the way to a refugee camp in Ethiopia; they are forced to flee a second time to another refugee camp in Kenya and finally, years later, he moves to the United States. The story is told in parallel to subsequent hardships in the United States.