Home » Uncategorized » What is the what by Dave Eggers – a review

What is the what by Dave Eggers – a review


This a story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys from Sudan
who managed to escape the clutches of the civil war in that region and
moves to the US after struggling for over 18 years. I remember this
book being a part of landmark’s recommendation a few years back. With
a byte from Khaled Hoseini on the cover showering praises on the book
and the writing, i started this book with a lot of expectations.

The book is written by Dave Eggers in Achak’s voice. It is commendable
that Dave gave away all the proceeds from this book for the welfare of
Sudanese in Sudan and elsewhere. The foreword says that this book
should be considered fictional as Achak recounted some of these
incidents many years after they occurred and is unable to vouch for
its accuracy. He also says that he chose Dave to write this book ‘cos
he wasn’t a writer and was unsure if he’d do justice to the book.

Maybe if Achak had written the book, it wouldn’t sound this
disconnected. Even though the book is written in 1st person, it sounds
like a dispassionate report. Something as personal and intense as
being driven out of one’s own country and having to endure a life that
almost makes a person to kill himself just so all the sufferings would
end lacks all personality. That to me was the biggest drawback of this
book. Dave doesn’t take any stands in the book. Even against the Arabs
who were the starting point of all the trouble. In fact, he goes out
of his way to be diplomatic.

There are many characters in this book. Some of whom just come and go
without making any impact. In fact, we don’t really get to know even

In spite of all the drawbacks, it is hard to unmoved by the conditions
that the Sudanese had to endure to escape the clutches of the war.
There are portions in the book that left me with a lump in my throat.

You can give this book a miss unless your interest is humanitarian.

Rating: 2/5


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