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A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers

A Hologram for the King (edition 2012)

by Dave Eggers

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8704010,219 (3.45)33
Title:A Hologram for the King
Authors:Dave Eggers
Info:McSweeney's (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 328 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers (Author)



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Somewhere around 2006, a "Daily Mail" article reported that The King Abdullah Economic City, or KAEC (pronounced 'cake'), will be slightly larger than Washington DC and home to approximately two million residents.Covering 70 square miles, the metropolis is costing £67 billion ($100 billion) .

The author of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius", Dave Eggers, takes a cold-if one can say cold in a 110 degrees desert- look at late King of Saudi Arabia's planned dream one hour from the Red Sea port of Jeddah and close to the religious center of Makkah and Medina. His metafictional character is Alan, a new now old world of manufacturing salesman turned consultant with some Willy Loman qualities, who confronts this dream with its realities. Eggers gives the reader a look into a 7/24/60 world at the end of its rope in settings of a half-built city, a chlorine scented five stars hotel or a plastic white tent for IT geeks which under the magic of his pen acquire magical realism qualities. The style is sharp and to the point like in Chapter VI: "THE ENTIRETY of the new city thus far comprised three buildings".

Eric Reguly of the "Globe and Mail in 2014 tells us that "Today, KAEC is about 10 per cent built but alive with activity. Mars Inc., the U.S. confectionery company, recently opened a Galaxy chocolate bar factory in KAEC. Sanofi, the French pharmaceuticals company, opened a drug-making and packaging factory the day Mr. Al-Rasheed and I got together. The port is open and a high-speed rail line that will connect KAEC to Jeddah and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina will be completed in 2016."

Then the book is only a literary work of art and not an economic study in predictability.

McSweeney's Books, the San Francisco publisher, did a fine work with this cover made of geometric patterns reflecting the harmony of everything on earth with gold lettering of the title bonded to the cover. ( )
  Artymedon | Sep 12, 2015 |
Boring, boring, boring. seriously...it's boring. ( )
  PiperUp | Aug 14, 2015 |
A really disappointing book. I probably would have given up on this book if I hadn't had faith that Dave Eggers would pull through in the end. There were a few bright moments, but I think the cover was the best part of the book. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
So, I work in Saudi Arabia. For two years, I lived there too. Recently though, I’ve decided life is better across the 20km bridge separating this nation from Bahrain, where I now live. The commute, which can take up to two hours on the way home, is very much worth it.

Now, I have a friend, a very dear friend, Matt, who lives somewhere many people would find even less appealing than Saudi: Cleveland, Ohio. If you want to know what Cleveland is like, you have to see the Cleveland Tourism Video on YouTube. Trust me, just watch it.

But I digress.

Matt recently sent me a book for my birthday which is set in Saudi Arabia. It’s called A Hologram for the King and it’s by Dave Eggers who I’ve never heard of let alone read anything by. But (apart from a horrible experience with the first Harry Potter book) I usually regard Matt’s recommendations in any department as very worth making note of. This was a fun read and with all the heavy stuff I read off the 1001 list, it’s been a long time since I’ve read anything so easy. It was so easy, I almost felt guilty reading it.

Was it worth it? Well, yes. Yes, I think it was, but I have to say I only think it was worth it for me because I’ve lived in Saudi and know something about it. Had I been living the last two years in, say, Burkina Faso, I don’t think I would have found this such a captivating read. And then I don’t think Matt would have sent it to me in the first place.

Alan Clay is a businessman attempting to present some hologram technology to (the now late) King Abdullah. As is typical, the trip descends into farce with delays, misinformation, more delays and adventures arising mostly out of Eggers’ imagination rather than any reality. The reality would be far, far too tedious and devoid of incident to make a novel out of.

Has Eggers captured Saudi accurately? I think he has in many ways. That quote below about the infamous homebrew spirit sid (don’t let anyone tell you Saudi has no rivers!) is absolutely spot on (apparently!) This is one example where he’s nailed it; his sequences where Alan gets hit by homebrew in the lonely cell of his hotel room are absolutely classic.

But there were many others that just didn’t work. Alan Clay complains about the heat hitting him like a hammer but has dinner on his hotel balcony. No one eats on a balcony when the summer sun is that hot. He mentions Filipinos doing gardening work on the roads, but, er, no, that would be Bangladeshis or Indians. Filipinos do office or retail/service industry jobs in Saudi. Their hosts are very discriminating when it comes to nationality. And when I read “they sped through the city,” I thought, “Ha, ha… good one!” No one speeds through Jeddah. The traffic is legendarily appalling.

There was enough in there that rang true though, but for the undiscerning, you’re likely to come away with as many false as true impressions.

What troubled me more were the fairly ludicrous plot turns: a Danish businesswoman tries to seduce him, he almost shoots someone, he drives a multi-million pound yacht, he ends up very intimately involved with a Saudi woman… and all this on a brief business trip to Jeddah. Hmmmm. There’s a distinct lack of plausibility about the whole thing that means it’s hard to take Alan seriously when you are faced with the fact that his life is a fairly sad and lamentable affair. That’s a shame, I thought.

There’s no doubt that Eggers can write amusing, entertaining prose and that he can create characters that you want to know more about. But I think because he can write and because he can create characters and entertain you, that’s what he does at the cost of perhaps communicating something a bit more meaningful and meaty. I’m either a snob, or just used to more carefully crafted novels. Maybe that amounts to the same thing! ( )
  arukiyomi | Jul 25, 2015 |
An interesting story, both comic and sad, but as far as provocative social commentary goes, I prefer Eggers's The Circle. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
The saving grace is that Eggers' subject is so timely and important, and the way he dramatises it so apt and amusing. [...] Eggers is good at conveying the hallucinatory, weightless feeling of expatriate life in the Gulf states: the featureless hotels that "could have been in Arizona, in Orlando, anywhere"; the wild parties in closed-off diplomatic compounds; the huge structures thrown up by oil wealth in the middle of nowhere.
added by DieterBoehm | editThe Guardian, Theo Tait (Jan 30, 2013)
A diverting, well-written novel about a middle-aged American dreamer, joined to a critique of how the American dream has been subverted by outsourcing our know-how and manufacturing to third-world nations. That last is certainly a distinctly contemporary touch. However, as for Alan himself: We’ve seen him and his brothers before, in William Dean Howells’s “The Rise of Silas Lapham,” in Theodore Dreiser’s “The Financier” and Sinclair Lewis’s “Babbitt,” in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and John Updike’s Rabbit novels. In literature, if not in life, middle-aged businessmen seldom find happiness.
Dave Eggers hat einen ebenso vergnüglichen wie gescheiten Roman über den Aberwitz der Globalisierung geschrieben.
In the New York Times Book Review, Pico Iyer called the novel “[a] supremely readable parable of America in the global economy that is haunting, beautifully shaped and sad ... With ferocious energy and versatility, [Eggers] has been studying how the world is remaking America ... Eggers has developed an exceptional gift for opening up the lives of others so as to offer the story of globalism as it develops and, simultaneously, to unfold a much more archetypal tale of struggle and loneliness and drift.”
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It's not every day that we are needed.
- Samuel Beckett
For Daniel McSweeney, Ron Hadley,
and Paul Vida, great men all
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Alan Clay woke up in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was May 30, 2010. He had spent two days on planes to get there.
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Er zou een tijd komen waarin de wereld mensen voortbracht die sterker waren dan zij. [..] Maar tot die tijd zouden er vrouwen en mannen zijn zoals Hanne en Alan, onvolmaakt en zonderde weg naar de volmaaktheid te kennen.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 193636574X, Hardcover)

In a rising Saudi Arabian city, far from weary, recession-scarred America, a struggling businessman pursues a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter’s college tuition, and finally do something great. In A Hologram for the King, Dave Eggers takes us around the world to show how one man fights to hold himself and his splintering family together in the face of the global economy’s gale-force winds. This taut, richly layered, and elegiac novel is a powerful evocation of our contemporary moment — and a moving story of how we got here.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:49 -0400)

"In a rising Saudi Arabian city, far from weary, recession-scarred America, a struggling businessman pursues a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter's college tuition, and finally do something great"--Publisher.

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