What Is the What

What Is the What (Vintage)
author: Dave Eggers
name: Steev
average rating: 4.21
book published: 2006
rating: 5
read at: 2010/03/14
date added: 2010/03/14
shelves: novels, own-it, politics
This book is really well written, as one would expect from Dave Eggers, and also heart-rendingly sad and touching.

It's a painful and painstaking look at the true life of a Sudanese refugee, a detailed personal glimpse at the kind of life that is usually just part of the flood of bad news statistics we see every day.

Some of the most powerful moments in the book take place at the boundaries between the hellish and unfamiliar life of this boy in poverty-stricken and war-torn Africa and his new life in the "developed world" which is the kind of existence we're more familiar with.

Example: He gets to go on a trip from his refugee camp to Nairobi to participate in a theater contest. He is hosted by a middle-class Kenyan couple, Mike and Grace. One morning there he learns that Princess Di has died, someone he's never heard of before but who seemingly everyone in the city knows and is very sad about, including his hosts:

"It seemed the whole world knew this person named Diana, and if the world knew her, the connection between the peoples of the earth was tighter than I had imagined. I wondered if the people of England would mourn if Mike and Grace died. At that time, confused as I was, I imagined that they would."

That really, for me, sums it all up right there.