Archive for the ‘recommendation’ Category

“What Is the What” by Dave Eggers – a story about Valentino Achak Deng

Saturday, May 12th, 2007


I recently finished this book. It is very good, beautiful even. Sad, funny, etc. It is about the life of one Valentino Achak Deng – a Sudanese ‘lost boy. It is a fantastic, strangely magical insight into that part of the world and the head of a child dealing with almost unimaginable (for myself at least) terrors. It never feels patronising. Nor does it feel like liberal hand-wringing. It is hard to know how it is done, but it has been written as a novel – even though it is essentially an auto-biography.

Anyone who thinks Dave Eggers is just about irony-clad smart-arsed literary showing-off* should give him another go.

I had to import it from the States via – which also has lots of other interesting stuff in it. I’m not sure when it is out over here, but when it does come out, it will probably have a less fine cover. The US hardback version is gorgeous with a lovely print on the front.

Take a look at and for more eloquent discussion.

* Something I never got. There was always a proper humanity to his work.