[PDF/EPUB] What Is the What The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers

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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 back cove. When so much hype and reputation converge on such a complex and sensitive topic only to receive unchecked praise from the American publishing industry and profitable sales I fear disaster choir preaching and the perpetration of harmful stereotypes Despite my interest in African literature in African conflicts and in the way that the developed world engages with Africa I have been avoiding this book since I learned of its existence A friend of mine who has lived and worked in Sudan vouched unreservedly for its authenticity and inoffensiveness and lent me her copy I m not mad at herDave Eggers or less avoids cheapening his subject weakening his message or losing credibility for the duration of a book comprised of stories that would tempt a narrator with less integrity to deploy every variety of manipulative sensationalist suspenseful and tear jerking prose The result is an unflinching straight forward trustworthy and revealing testimony I have no doubt that What is the What has communicated deeply about the reality of Sudan s recent atrocities than most other products in any media And I consider this of an ethical accomplishment than a literary one Modern pragmatist philosophers such as Richard Rorty contend that one of the best ways to act ethically is to work towards expanding the circles of empathy of as many people as you can They suggest doing this by telling stories from new perspectives that familiarize and humanize marginalized and oppressed peoples and by creating ethnographies that do the same work on a scholarly level A book like this is supposed to raise awareness to sensitize people and to encourage action To the extent that this book makes it harder for people to be idle or disinterested in the face of circumstances like those in the South of Sudan it is successful to the extent that it prompts people to take action about such circumstances it is impressively so Now I m not thrilled with Eggers s decision to play a little game with the genre calling this both an autobiography and a novel and I m not convinced by the reasons that are given for his doing so Nor am I entirely comfortable with the narrative tactic of making Achak Deng directly address different parts of his story to whichever American seems to be disappointing him in the contemporary portion of What is the What As readers uickly discover the chapters of Deng s tale that transpire in Sudan Ethiopia and Kenya are related by him in his mind somewhat accusingly over the course of less than two days to Americans with whom he is interacting It is all rather obvious that the Americans he addresses are just the cogs in the machinery of our populace the people who refuse agency and responsibility the people who are passive accomplices to the neglect of people like Deng whether they struggle at dead end jobs making change at our supermarkets or whether they struggle to survive in crude structures built of trash amidst vulnerable refugees on the far side of earth It s an interesting tactic clearly built to abolish narrative distance and to refresh a sense of accountability but it can seem a bit forcedI don t think the prose warrants excerpting or stylistic analysis nor am I tempted to highlight any particular episodes of Deng s life There are charming bits to the story therapeutic moments of good fortune and humanity and there are scarring accounts of human behavior at its worst The book is worth reading for its even keeled navigation of these moments for the insight it offers into life in a refugee camp and for the mirror that it holds up to the United States as it fails to approximate the ideal of sanctuary Respect to Dave Eggers for donating the profits he could have made from this endeavor to the cause of other Lost Boys from Sudan A Tangled Affair (The Pearl House you can They suggest doing this by telling stories from new perspectives that familiarize and humanize marginalized and oppressed peoples and by creating ethnographies that do the same work on a scholarly level A book like this is supposed to raise awareness to sensitize people and to encourage action To the extent that this book makes it harder for people to be idle or disinterested in the face of circumstances like those in the South of Sudan it is successful to the extent that it prompts people to take action about such circumstances it is impressively so Now I m not thrilled with Eggers s decision to play a little game with the genre calling this both an autobiography and a novel and I m not convinced by the reasons that are given for his doing so Nor am I entirely comfortable with the narrative tactic of making Achak Deng directly address different parts of his story to whichever American seems to be disappointing him in the contemporary portion of What is the What As readers uickly discover the chapters of Deng s tale that transpire in Sudan Ethiopia and Kenya are related by him in his mind somewhat accusingly over the course of less than two days to Americans with whom he is interacting It is all rather obvious that the Americans he addresses are just the cogs in the machinery of our populace the people who refuse agency and responsibility the people who are passive accomplices to the neglect of people like Deng whether they struggle at dead end jobs making change at our supermarkets or whether they struggle to survive in crude structures built of trash amidst vulnerable refugees on the far side of earth It s an interesting tactic clearly built to abolish narrative distance and to refresh a sense of accountability but it can seem a bit forcedI don t think the prose warrants excerpting or stylistic analysis nor am I tempted to highlight any particular episodes of Deng s life There are charming bits to the story therapeutic moments of good fortune and humanity and there are scarring accounts of human behavior at its worst The book is worth reading for its even keeled navigation of these moments for the insight it offers into life in a refugee camp and for the mirror that it holds up to the United States as it fails to approximate the ideal of sanctuary Respect to Dave Eggers for donating the profits he could have made from this endeavor to the cause of other Lost Boys from Sudan

review What Is the What The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng

What Is the What The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng

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. TOO MUCH AND NOT ENOUGH A PARADOX With her open and confident sexuality she was the constant igniter of everything flammable within usHmm if this Sudanese refugee now American Valentine Achak Deng can turn a phrase like that how come he needs Dave Eggars to shape his book and cop the byline Okay maybe he can t maybe those delightful sentences are pure Dave So what about this I had feared for a long time that secretly Tabitha was well versed in the ways of love and that the moment we were alone she would want to move too uicklyNow this sounds like the authentic voice of an African trying to speak of delicate matters in his second language to me and comes off as horribly stilted but understandably so Okay so no Dave Eggars there that s pure Valentine Now since it s the clunky uber sincere stilted voice which tells 98% of this long tale why is this book not bylined like all those celeb autobiographies by Valentine Achak Deng as told to Dave Eggars Does this matter much Well at the point where the ventrilouism starts to creep you out yes it doesAs everyone knows this is a long catalogue of ghastly horrors suffered in Africa interspersed with a long catalogue of banal indignities suffered in Atlanta As we swam across the river I saw a crocodile swim by with a boy I knew slightly in its mouth I was unfulfilled being the receptionist at a gym and I deeply regretted not being accepted by the Jesuit college of my choice when I woke up I found my closest friend had died in the nightI gradually realised my girlfriend was playing fast and loose with other gentlemen etc etc This flipfloppery clashed dissonantly in my ears like an untuned church bell but nevertheless is it not profoundly human As soon as the crocodile lets you go you start bitching about how his fangs ruined your only good Hugo Boss shirt In Art Spiegelman s brilliant memoir Maus another tale of horror told to someone who then tells it to us the difficulties of Art s relationship with his survivor father loom just as large in the book as the atrocities of Auschwitz Is this tastelessness No it s life as she is lived I mean is there a God Do you think this jacket or the other one But would God allow such evil just for the sake of human free will I mean does that justify all this agony So are you saying the brown shoes ReallyWHY THIS AND WHY NOT THATThree stars not four or five Well there were so many aspects covered great swathes of I confess tedious detail I could have done without and yet so many other things not included why this why that How And of course what Or likely in this book WHAT And yet it was very compelling Valentine is indeed a modern Ancient Mariner compelled to stop us wedding guests and fix us with a powerful gaze so that we have to hear his dreadful over politely phrased tale to the end It would take a whole long essay to discuss the politics of this intensely political book Was the airlift of the Lost Boys to America a failed experiment Can the West ever really do anything about these decades long conflicts in Africa And further is one lot of humans here the Sudanese Arabs really wholly evil and another group here the Sudanese Dinka complete and utter innocent victims Is this Valentine Achak Deng s whole story or as I suspect do we now need another 537 pages of footnotes giving us all the context that s missing from this almost essential but extremely frustrating book If Wishes Were...Daddies you out West of Heaven yes it doesAs everyone knows this is a long catalogue of ghastly horrors suffered in Africa interspersed with a long catalogue of banal indignities suffered in Atlanta As we swam across the river I saw a crocodile swim by with a boy I knew slightly in its mouth I was unfulfilled being the receptionist at a gym and I deeply regretted not being accepted by the Jesuit college of my choice when I woke up I found my closest friend had died in the nightI gradually realised my girlfriend was playing fast and loose with other gentlemen etc etc This flipfloppery clashed dissonantly in my ears like an untuned church bell but nevertheless is it not profoundly human As soon as the crocodile lets Putting Out of Your Mind you go Under the Knife / Whistleblower you start bitching about how his fangs ruined Warrior Rising (The Esri your only good Hugo Boss shirt In Art Spiegelman s brilliant memoir Maus another tale of horror told to someone who then tells it to us the difficulties of Art s relationship with his survivor father loom just as large in the book as the atrocities of Auschwitz Is this tastelessness No it s life as she is lived I mean is there a God Do Mistress at a Price you think this jacket or the other one But would God allow such evil just for the sake of human free will I mean does that justify all this agony So are Raintree (Raintree, you saying the brown shoes ReallyWHY THIS AND WHY NOT THATThree stars not four or five Well there were so many aspects covered great swathes of I confess tedious detail I could have done without and The Mediterranean Millionaires Mistress yet so many other things not included why this why that How And of course what Or likely in this book WHAT And A Millionaire for Cinderella (In Love with the Boss yet it was very compelling Valentine is indeed a modern Ancient Mariner compelled to stop us wedding guests and fix us with a powerful gaze so that we have to hear his dreadful over politely phrased tale to the end It would take a whole long essay to discuss the politics of this intensely political book Was the airlift of the Lost Boys to America a failed experiment Can the West ever really do anything about these decades long conflicts in Africa And further is one lot of humans here the Sudanese Arabs really wholly evil and another group here the Sudanese Dinka complete and utter innocent victims Is this Valentine Achak Deng s whole story or as I suspect do we now need another 537 pages of footnotes giving us all the context that s missing from this almost essential but extremely frustrating book

Summary Ï PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB free ´ Dave Eggers

From the bestselling author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius 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. I ve been thinking a lot about this book this morning I ve recommended it a few dozen times over the years I didn t even think about whether or not I had written a review I hadn tI read this before I joined Goodreads in the days before I wrote reviews Those days are coming back again in my near future review retirement but that s another story to review haBut I d like to share a little about this book I read in in 2006 and I still remember it like yesterday It s the type of book that leaves a lasting impression It s extremely well written And for those who don t like other books by Dave Eggers I m not one of them this is not the book people turn their nose against This is a great bookIt was horrific how the Lost Boys lived day after day in Sudan starving being chased from village location to the next disease killing etcand there is another appalling story to read about as well Dave Eggers gives us a fictional autobiography of the horrendous journey of one boy in particular named Valentino Deng It s a novel that reads like a memoir But what also makes this story unbelievable is what happens when Valentino is brought over to the United States He knows his host family and has made a few friends He is given an apartment to live in by himself He plans on attending community college I m leaving out lots of detailsbut in a very short time new in his apt Valentino gets mugged robbed and tied up For days nobody knew he was alone in bad condition on the floor of his own apt Welcome to AmericaI can t recommend this book enough


10 thoughts on “What Is the What The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng

  1. says:

    If you know me at all you know I read a lot So I don't take these reviews lightly Here goes What is the What is without a doubt one of the best books I have ever readThe story of Valentino Achak Deng a so called Lost Boy of the Sudan is so mov

  2. says:

    It takes a certain and rare kind of writer to make a story about civil war genocide and a refugee crisis boring and unreadable; that writer specifically is Dave Eggers It's not that I don't understand the purpose that this book serves just as we import the Third World's raw resources to fuel our own material greed so must we import their tragedies to break up the monotony of our lives My uestion is can't we get better books to do it?First

  3. says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this book this morning I’ve recommended it a few dozen times over the years I didn’t even ‘think’ about whether or not I had written a review I hadn’tI read this before I joined Goo

  4. says:

    “Valentino I just don’t know what God has against you” These words were directed at the subject of this novelbiography and are pretty much a motif that runs throughout most of this bookThis is one man’s true story of the Lost Boys of the Sudan Valentino Achak Deng at age seven and thousands of boys just like him endured all manner of hardship as they fled their homes as civil war beginning in 1983 devastated th

  5. says:

    TOO MUCH AND NOT ENOUGH A PARADOX With her open and confident sexuality she was the constant igniter of everything flammable within usHmm if this Sudanese refugee now American Valentine Achak Deng can turn a phrase like that how come he needs Dave Eggars to shape his book and cop the byline? Okay maybe he can't maybe thos

  6. says:

    GREAT STORY NOT SO GREAT BOOK This took me THREE MONTHS to finish I did read other books in the meantime but believe me I wouldn't have dragged my feet on this one if the storytelling hadn't been so TERRIBLY AWFULExamples of STORIES told parti

  7. says:

    Nine years after this was published I've finally read it Have meant to read it since loving Zeitoun a few years ago Wife listened to audiobook on long commute and deemed it a truly heartbreaking work of staggering genius also proclaimed herself an Eggers fan after not being so into his memoir I didn't get to it for so long in part thanks to r

  8. says:

    Now that was a lot of information Too muchValentino Achak Deng is one of the lost boys of the civil war in Sudan He survi

  9. says:

    When so much hype and reputation converge on such a complex and sensitive topic only to receive unchecked praise from the American publishing industry and profitable sales I fear disaster choir preaching and the perpetration of harmful stereotypes Despite my interest in African literature in African conflicts and in the way that the developed world engages with Africa I have been avoiding this book since I learned of its existenc

  10. says:

    Dave Eggers tells Achack's story much like you would hear it if you had befriended the Sudanese refugee yourself this book is like a conversation with a good friend you start where you are hello how are you i am being robbed at gun point you move back to the begining this is where i am from the world was dust we knew it to be Sudan there was

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