Sunday, March 18, 2007
i'm almost to the end of this book: what is the what by dave eggers. this guy is one of my favorite authors; i really enjoy what he has written and i also really respect what he has done in terms of book publishing (see McSweeney's)and helping underprivileged kids (see 826 Valencia). anyway, this book is a memoir of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, displaced by Sudan's second civil war (pre-Darfur conflict). it's a "fictionalized memoir" in that deng told his story to eggers through exhaustive interview over a period of several years, and eggers wrote the story in deng's voice, re-creating conversations, and fleshing out details through research and other refugee stories. the result is a powerful story that brings home the reality of the displacement of the Sudanese people, first being driven from their homeland, the chaos in the refugee camps and the hardship that continues once immigrants land in America. when i think about his story being multiplied by 40 or 50,000 people, it makes my heart hurt. i went to a reading the other night for this book. deng wasn't able to come; he is in the final stages of becoming an american citizen. instead, eggers came to read from the book and discuss how the book came into being. fascinating stuff.