Friday, July 04, 2008

What is the What

What is the What, the latest novel by Dave Eggers, is the novelized autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, who witnessed the devastation of his village, Marial Bai, and became one of Sudan's Lost Boys. When he did make it to America, he faced a new set of problems.

Eggers succeeds in writing in a different voice and creating a convincing narrative while describing the unimaginable nightmares these boys faced everyday, such as starvation, wild animals, predatory adults, and disease. They were chased from location to location, they were unaccompanied orphans who staggered and died along the way, the youngest human beings to live on hope and adrenalin.

What is the what? No one knows, but these boys all had to have some faith that they would find their own what, in order to keep moving. Valentino did. It's a sad story and a long one. One of Valentino's earlier monikers was "Gone Far," and though he's still a young man, he has already achieved that.

Even if you're not attracted to any of Dave Eggers's other novels, you might like this one. The subject and style are completely different, the events staggering. It's a memorable read.

4 comments:

TLP said...

Interesting. You remember, I think, that your dad helped mentor some of the Lost Boys here. They are amazing people. But I always wonder about the girls.

Ariel the Thief said...

The woman is here from Somalia tells about the times they spent in the jungle to hide away from the looting-killing groups time after time as if it was normal. Yeah, it happened that they spent months there. Yeah, one of her sisters gave birth to a child in the jungle, no, they didn't really have water.

TLP, I know two girls, this woman and a young girl, came from that kinf of hell, their eyes are sparkling and their smiles are the kindest. You find no signs on their beautiful faces.

actonbell said...

Many of the girls were hauled off to get married, they had no choice. Some of them made it here, but the overwhelming majority of Sudanese refugees to be placed in other countries were boys.

Doug said...

Great review. It sounds fascinating.