Eggers and “What is the What?”

You may know Dave Eggers from his excellent A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a classic but contemporary Bildungsroman for the Gen-Y-ers.  But did you know that Eggers also founded the 826 Valencia Center?  826 is a wonderful program that I’ll go into more in the future (we volunteer there currently!), but right now what I want to talk about is his latest book: What is the What?

What is the What? tells the true story of Valentino Achak Deng, who was part of the group known as the Lost Boys of Sudan. This group of more than 27,000 boys traveled across Southern Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya in search of refuge during the Second Sudanese Civil War in the 1980s and 1990s. What is the What is the novelized version of Mr. Deng’s autobiography.”

“One Book, One Philadelphia,” a program in its sixth season, “carefully chooses one book each year to dissect and celebrate. The program aims to unify and educate Philadelphians through reading.”  What is the What was chosen “…in part because of its relevance to the current situation in Darfur, which mimics the recent war in Sudan. The city hopes that the book’s candid representation of violence will resonate with readers and help them to reflect on issues of violence worldwide and within our city. Mr. Eggers praised the “One Book” program, admiring the city’s desire to promote reading on such a large scale.”

(original story and quotes from The Bulletin, Philly’s free newspaper)

Click on the photos for more info on the books and to buy them at!

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