What Is the What

What Is the What

The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng : A Novel

Book - 2006
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Baker & Taylor
A biographical novel traces the story of Valentino Achak Deng, who as a boy of seven was separated from his family when his village in southern Sudan was attacked by government helicopters and became one of the estimated 17,000 "lost boys of Sudan" before relocating from a Kenyan refugee camp to Atlanta in 2001.

Perseus Publishing
In a heartrending and astonishing novel, Eggers illuminates the history of the civil war in Sudan through the eyes of Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee now living in the United States. We follow his life as he's driven from his home as a boy and walks, with thousands of orphans, to Ethiopia, where he finds safety ? for a time. Valentino's travels, truly Biblical in scope, bring him in contact with government soldiers, janjaweed-like militias, liberation rebels, hyenas and lions, disease and starvation ? and a string of unexpected romances. Ultimately, Valentino finds safety in Kenya and, just after the millennium, is finally resettled in the United States, from where this novel is narrated. In this book, written with expansive humanity and surprising humor, we come to understand the nature of the conflicts in Sudan, the refugee experience in America, the dreams of the Dinka people, and the challenge one indomitable man faces in a world collapsing around him.

Reasearch Associates
In a sprawling and epic novel, Dave Eggers illuminates the history of the civil war in Sudan through the eyes of a young boy, Valentino Achak Deng. What is the What tells the story of Valentino and another boy, both caught in the Sudanese civil war. One, at seven, is too young to know what's happening; the other, at ten, is old enough to fight for the rebel army. The two struggle through the brutal war, enduring the surreal world their country has become. In many ways a complete departure from the author's previous works, this book is a straightforward and unflinching portrayal of the madness of war; yet it is also full of unexpected humor and adventure. What ist he What is heartrending and astonishing, filled with adventure, suspense, tragedy and, finally, triumph.

Publisher Group West
Hello Children is an epic novel about the lives of two boys during the Sudanese civil war. For those who think they know about the so-called Lost Boys of Sudan, this novel will be an eye-opener. And if you think you know the work of Dave Eggers, this is in many ways a complete departure: it's straightforward and unflinching, and yet full of unexpected humor and adventure amid the madness of war. Eggers has been working on the book for four years now, deeply entrenched in the community of Sudanese refugees in the U.S., and in 2003 went to southern Sudan with a refugee named Valentino Achak Deng. During that trip, Deng was reunited with the family he hadn't seen in 17 years. Hello Children is a book about the lives of these two boys — one, at seven, too young to know what's happening to his country; the other, at ten, old enough to fight for the rebel army.

Blackwell North Amer
What is the What is the story of Valentino Achak Deng, a refuge of the Sudanese civil war. Fleeing from his village in the mid-1980s, Deng becomes one of the so-called Lost Boys - children pursued by militias, government soldiers, lions and hyenas and myriad diseases, in their search for sanctuary, first in Ethiopia and then Kenya. Eventually Deng is resettled in the United States with almost 4,000 other young Sudanese men, and a very different struggle begins.

& Taylor

A winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award traces the story of two child Sudanese civil war refugees and their witness to the devastation that has torn their homeland, a time during which one struggles to understand what is happening and the other joins the rebel army.

Publisher: San Francisco : McSweeney's, c2006
ISBN: 9781932416640
Branch Call Number: Fiction Egg
Characteristics: 475 p. : map ; 24 cm


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Apr 29, 2017

Though cataloged as fiction, this true, personal account of a "lost boy" from Sudan is both heart-rendering and unforgettable.

Apr 18, 2016

I am half way through and am going to stop - goes on and on about mostly the same thing, Dave you can stop, "I get it already"... I read to learn things and to be inspired and somewhat to be entertained. I think I learnt what there is to learn in the first 20 pages, now I heard it five times over... inspired and entertained not working for me either..

Mar 21, 2016

The lost boys of Sudan. A very remarkable story, well told.

jmr1969 Sep 30, 2015

An extremely well-written and important book. It was my first book by Eggers and I was not disappointed! The human rights crisis described in this book through one individual should be required reading for every conscious human who lives on Earth.

Nov 11, 2014

Dave Eggers at his best, crafting a brilliant narrative from real-life events and memories. This novel/memoir has a protagonist you won't soon forget.

multcolib_dianaa Mar 04, 2014

Eggers' narrator, a fictionalized version of a real person, is a Sudanese Lost Boy. Forced to flee his village by government militias, he survives marathon walks, starvation, disease, soldiers, bandits, land mines, lions, and refugee camps before winning the right to immigrate to the U.S. There's so much darkness in this book, but it's not depressing-- it's inspiring.

loonylovesgood Feb 16, 2012

A remarkable book. Hard to read in spots but I found it hard to put down. It certainly makes you stop and think and appreciate what you have...

zavirani Jan 31, 2012

An excellent story from the perspective of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Eggers writes wonderfully, with a lot of emotion and a great voice that doesn't feel condescending or pandering to a bleeding heart. It's feels like an honest account of the horrors of what these boys went through during the wars in Sudan and their subsequent lives in refugee camps and resettlement in other nations. But be warned, this book is depressing as hell.

mrettig Sep 08, 2011

An incredible book & I recommend it to anyone and everyone. You won't forget the story of the Lost Boys -- they will stay with you.

Harriet_the_Spy Jul 22, 2011

A gripping book, tragic yet hopeful, and a remarkable work of art. American-born Eggers produces a completely believable self-portait of a South Sudanese refugee raised mostly in camps. The real Valentino Achak Deng both provided the material and embraced the opportunity for this novel to do real good in the world. Check out his foundation and its groundbreaking work in rebuilding South Sudan: http://www.valentinoachakdeng.org/

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Dec 23, 2010

"... Now that you are here, on the most sacred and fertile land I have, I can give you one more thing. I can give you this creature, which is called the cow..." God showed man the idea of the cattle, and the cattle were magnificent. They were in every way what the monyjang would want. The man and woman thanked God for such a gift, because they knew that the cattle would bring them milk and meat and prosperity of every kind. But God was not finished. God said," You can have these cattle, as my gift to you, or you can have the What."
..."What is the What?" the first man asked. And God said to the man, "I cannot tell you. Still you have to choose. You have to choose between the cattle and the What?"

notTom Dec 16, 2010

"We refugees can be celebrated one day, helped and lifted up, and then utterly ignored by all when we prove to be a nuisance. When we find trouble here, it is invariably our own fault."


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Jun 09, 2011

MelissaBee thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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notTom Dec 16, 2010

Based on extensive interviews with Valentino Achak Deng and closely following actual events, this novel by Dave Eggers tells Deng's story with extreme passion and startling honesty. Beginning with the destruction of his home village as a young child and harrowing walk across the war-torn wilderness of southern Sudan with a group of children known as the Lost Boys, to life in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya and the frustration of attending community college in the United States while holding a job which pays little, Deng provides provides a voice for the social underdog. It is with a tone of frustration and cynicism, but not self-pity, that he describes the plight of Sudanese survivors in America, "We refugees can be celebrated one day, helped and lifted up, and then utterly ignored by all when we prove to be a nuisance. When we find trouble here, it is invariably our own fault."

Deng's search for "the What" is compelling, riveting, and provides not only a glimpse of the evil of civil war in the Sudan, but also a unique perspective into our own society.


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