What is the What

This is the story of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese man who, as a boy walked out of Sudan into Ethiopia and later into Kenya. He came to the US as a young man where he found that life still wasn’t easy, that he still couldn’t get the qualifications that matched his ability, and that adjusting to “normal life” was tough.

Although it is his story, it’s written in a novelised form by Dave Eggers. I’ve read Dave Eggers’ books before and I usually find them conceptually clever but a bit lumbering, but this book is far from that.

Occasionally historical explanations are engineered into the story, and they’re a bit disruptive to the journey Valentino is making. But to be honest I was very ignorant and I needed the explanations. I’m not sure how else he could have done it in a way that I would have read it. It was just a strong jump in tone.

Valentino’s story is heartbreaking, but it’s told without drama and with touches of humour. I think it will be an education for other readers, and it’s inspired me to learn more.

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One thought on “What is the What

  1. Good to hear that you enjoyed it, and thought it was interesting. I keep walking past the book in the shops but so far I’ve managed to not let it tempt me too much, but very much looking forward to reading it!

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