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What Is the What by Dave Eggers

What Is the What (2006)

by Dave Eggers

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English (132)  Dutch (7)  Catalan (2)  All languages (141)
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
(36) I am late reading this novel from 2007 based on a true story of a refugee from Sudan's life, Valentino Achak Deng. Dang is driven from his home as a child and thrust into the middle of Civil War in Sudan between the Dinka agrarian people of the South and the predominantly Arab ruling class in Khartoum. I don't really know all of the politics or how this crisis in the 1990's is or is not related to Darfur but the story was quite riveting at times. It is hard to believe he was essentially the same age of my sons when he was first separated from his parents and forced to survive on his own with the other 'Lost Boys.' His perseverance in the face of tragedy and the seemingly humane, generous person he becomes is nothing short of miraculous.

I enjoyed this account and was often riveted especially before Achak reached Kikuma. I thought the more recent present from which he was narrating his past was also well done and created a great framework. I liked how he appeared to be telling his story to the people he encountered during his night from hell. I felt as if the parts written once he was established in the refugee camp in Kenya became a bit over done. Too much detail here and my interest in the novel waned; my reading pace slowed down.

Overall, I think Eggers and Deng created something lasting to tell the story of the Sudanese refugees. I wish I knew some of the Lost Boys and I wish them well. I cannot imagine the horrors he endured in these modern times of plenty. It doesn't seem right that this degree of inhumanity can be allowed to happen when here in America we have so much - food, housing, money, surplus. I would definitely read more by Eggers (and Deng!) ( )
  jhowell | Nov 12, 2015 |
I'm finally reading this, Elise! ( )
  RachelGMB | Aug 5, 2015 |
A fictionalized account of Valentino Achak Deng newly arrived to Atlanta, GA from his native Sudan. Achak was part of the great Sudanese refugee movement, aka, "the Lost Boys." The book opens with Achak being mugged and burgled when he naively lets in a woman seeking help. He alternates his ordeals here with his trials in Africa. The two stories ensue and ultimately converge at the end of the book. While heart-breakingly sad at times (death, atrocities, violence) the book manages to end on a upbeat note as Ashak vows to start a new, more self-assured life in a new place.

This is gripping reading and well-crafted. To this reader, Ashak's present-day travails were as awful as his times in Africa. He is treated with a strange combination of charity and neglect (he waits 17 hours in the ER and finally walks home!) His sponsors mean well but don't really equip him for American life. His fellow Sudanese immigrants suffer similar fates: lives of drama and violence. (His story of his 'love' Tabitha is especially moving.) ( )
  mjspear | Sep 22, 2014 |
An excellent read. This is the story of young Valentino Achak Deng, a boy who left Southern Sudan when war broke out in his home town of Mariel Bai. He literally had to run for his life as he watched people all around him being killed by soldiers, eaten by lions or starving from hunger and thirst as he and others made their way on foot to Ethiopia and later were relocated to a refugee camp in Kenya. Although this was a novel, it was told in first person by Dave Eggers and is based on a true story. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Jun 11, 2014 |
lost boys of Sudan ( )
  lindaspangler | Apr 24, 2014 |
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Dave Eggersprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Graham, DionNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I have no reason not to answer the door so I answer the door.
"They can come in different shapes and guises, but always wars come in increments. I am convinced there are steps, and that once these events are set into motion, they are virtually impossible to reverse."
"I speak to these people, and I speak to you because I cannot help it. It gives me strength, almost unbelievable strength, to know that you are there. I covet your eyes, your ears, the collapsible space between us. How blessed are we to have each other? I am alive and you are alive so we must fill the air with our words. I will fill today, tomorrow, every day until I am taken back to God. I will tell stories to people who listen and to people who don't want to listen, to people who seek me out and to those who run."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307385906, Paperback)

New York Times Notable Book
New York Times Bestseller

What Is the What
is the epic novel based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng who, along with thousands of other children —the so-called Lost Boys—was forced to leave his village in Sudan at the age of seven and trek hundreds of miles by foot, pursued by militias, government bombers, and wild animals, crossing the deserts of three countries to find freedom. When he finally is resettled in the United States, he finds a life full of promise, but also heartache and myriad new challenges. Moving, suspenseful, and unexpectedly funny, What Is the What is an astonishing novel that illuminates the lives of millions through one extraordinary man.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:38 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A biographical novel traces the story of Valentino Achak Deng, who as a boy was separated from his family when his village in southern Sudan was attacked, and became one of the estimated 17,000 "lost boys of Sudan" before relocating from a Kenyan refugee camp to Atlanta in 2001.… (more)

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