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A Hologram for the King Hardcover – June 19, 2012
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One of the New York Times Book Review's "Top Ten Books of 2012"
Mr. Eggers uses a new, pared down, Hemingwayesque voice to recount his story... he demonstrates in Hologram that he is master of this more old-fashioned approach as much as he was a pioneering innovator with A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius....[This] sad-funny-dreamlike story unfolds to become an allegory about the frustrations of middle-class America, about the woes unemployed workers and sidelined entrepreneurs have experienced in a newly globalized world in which jobs are being outsourced abroad.... A comic but deeply affecting tale about one man’s travails that also provides a bright, digital snapshot of our times.”
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"A spare but moving elegy for the American century.”Publishers Weekly
"Eggers can do fiction as well as he likes.”Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times
A potent, well-drawn portrait of one man’s discovery of where his personal and professional selves split and connect.”Kirkus Reviews
An extraordinary work of timely and provocative themes...This novel reminds us that above all, Eggers is a writer of books, and a writer of the highest order .An outstanding achievement in Eggers's already impressive career, and an essential read.”Carmela Ciuraru, The San Francisco Chronicle
Eggers understands the pressures of American downward-mobility, and in the protagonist of his novel, Alan Clay, has created an Everyman, a post-modern Willy Loman .The novel operates on a grand and global scale, but it also is intimate.”Elizabeth Taylor, The Chicago Tribune
Fascinating...Although Godot may be Hologram's philosophical source, Eggers is no Beckettian minimalist. The novel is paradoxically suspenseful, but it's also rich in character and in Eggers's evocative writing about place A Hologram for the King, as far from home as it might seem, is an acute slice of American life.”Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
"Dave Eggers is a prince among men when it comes to writing deeply felt, socially conscious books that meld reportage with fiction. While A Hologram for the King is fiction...it’s a strike against the current state of global economic injustice."
Elissa Schappell,Vanity Fair
Daniel Roberts, Fortune
A heartbreaking character study.”Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness
Deft and darkly comic Beautifully enlivened by oddball encounters and oddball characters, by stranger-in-a-strange-land episodes.”Steven Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Eggers’ spare prose is a pleasure, and A Hologram for the King proves to be a deft blend of surreal adventure, absurd comedy and pointed observations.”Georgia Rowe, San Jose Mercury News
As the kingless days pass, Alan ventures from the tent and hotel into the rich, unsettling realities of the Kingdom, and Eggers ventures deeper into Alan, as well as into the question that has seemingly guided Eggers’ work for years: What does it mean to be an American in a world that has places like the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, or post-Katrina New Orleans?”Alan Scherstuhl, San Francisco Weekly
[Hologram] has at its center a sort of moral vision quest... Alan’s plight is endearing in its universality, even while being singularly his.”Jonathan Messinger, Time Out Chicago
"Eggers has given us a work of fiction that works as a perfect commentary on this American decade.”Jason Diamond, Vol.1 Brooklyn
The power of this thing sneaks up on you While Alan cools his heels, he bonds with memorably drawn locals; has some adventures that illuminate the tragicomedy that is globalism; and gets us meditating on what appears to be the theme : How can we all get over ourselves long enough to really, truly notice other people?” Jeff Giles, Entertainment Weekly
Eerie, suspenseful and tightly controlled Exciting stuff.”Cynthia Macdonald, The Globe and Mail
Alan feels like Eggers’s most fully-realized character to date A sad and beautiful story.”John Freeman, The Boston Globe
[A] supremely readable parable of America in the global economy that is haunting, beautifully shaped and sad ... With ferocious energy and versatility, [Eggers] has been studying how the world is remaking America ... Eggers has developed an exceptional gift for opening up the lives of others so as to offer the story of globalism as it develops and, simultaneously, to unfold a much more archetypal tale of struggle and loneliness and drift.”Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review
"Hits you with prose as stark and luminous as its Saudi Arabian setting It should confirm Eggers's position among America's leading contemporary writers."Independent
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Top Customer Reviews
Eggers' novel is like an Office Space on downers. It's better than you'd expect a story about business consulting or sales to be, but it still doesn't exactly "meet its fourth quarter projections."
Alan Clay, a former executive at Schwinn, who has failed trying to start his own bicycle business, is now working as a consultant to try to pay his debts and make ends meet. Alan parlays a (tenuous) relationship with King Abdullah of Saudia Arabia's nephew to convince an IT company to send him and a team of young go-getters to the Kingdom to pitch IT for King Abdullah's newest pet project -- a city rising from the desert called King Abdullah Economic City. (This is a real thing.)
But it soon becomes clear that business in Saudi Arabia isn't conducted as it is here in the U.S., and Alan has to wait several weeks for the King (lots of other reviewers have compared this aspect of the story to Beckett's Waiting for Godot, if that helps), passing the time by drinking by himself in his hotel room, having a tryst with a Danish woman, hunting wolves (what?!), and worrying about the lump on his neck he's sure is cancer.
Along the way, we get several little anecdotes about China taking over the world -- and how China's less-than-ethical business practices are pushing it past us stalwart Americans.Read more ›
The novel concerns a man, Alan, who has just lost money in a poor investment, lost his wife in divorce, and is worried about his daughter's future, sure that he cannot pay for her tuition (and that a lump on his neck is actually cancer eating away at his spinal cord). His only hope is to take a job with Reliant, who hope to secure a position with King Abdullah's Economic City, the King's dream that may or may not come to fruition. Everyone in Saudi Arabia doesn't think so. And so, Alan and his team from Reliant are set up in a tent with no WiFi, which is crucial to their presentation, without food, broken air conditioning, and nobody to pitch to. The King hasn't arrived, and is consistently out the country.
It is true that the situation is very much like the one in Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot.' Waiting for this person who they were told existed, and who would be there soon, but the person does not arrive. It is an existential exercise. However, 'Hologram' is not just 'Godot'. it is an examination of the failure of one man, in both his personal relationships and professional life. It is a novel for our times, a man who is depending on this one last hope, but the hope is all but fleeting.
This novel was very interesting, both stylistically and thematically. While not Eggers' best, or the novel of the generation, it is an enjoyable experience, and one that explores what it is to be human with both hilarity and drama. Recommended.
Let's start with an obvious, but very minor, point to get it out of the way. The "Saudi Arabia" that Eggers writes about is at least 80% a figment of his imagination, almost unrecognizable to those of us, like myself, who have worked in the Kingdom. The very broadest strokes are accurate enough--there is a place on the Red Sea called KAEC, just about all service-industry and construction jobs are done by a (frequently) maltreated class of semi-indentured Asians, people drink a foul-tasting white lightening called siddiqi (by Arabs, that is. Expats universally call it "sid"--one of Eggers telltale little missteps is having a Westerner use the Arabic instead of the expat slang)--but just about every subtler nuance of life in Saudi Arabia that it's possible to get wrong, Eggers gets completely wrong. For those interested, I may eventually list some of the many ways he gets KSA wrong in a footnote in the comment section of this review. For now, I just have to wonder why, when taking such obvious liberties and clearly knowing almost nothing about the culture, Eggers felt the need to set his novel in a real time and place at all. A much wiser generation of novelists (e.g. Naipaul in A Bend in the River or E.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There was not much that happened in this book. It was like Ground Hog Day.Published 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
Hard to believe that a guy with such a unique whimsical writing style died the last 40% of the book when there was so much to entertain the reader with. Really to bad...Published 3 months ago by Mike Murphy
Enjoyable read. A different kind of story line, but very well written with good character development.Published 3 months ago by Jim in Midland
I was not impressed with this book. I kept reading hoping that it would get better, but it didn't. I hope that the movie will be better!Published 5 months ago by william neugebauer
A lot happens in this book although not much really happens at all. A terrific and provocative writer with a subtle hand shined a light on the way we westerners look at our role... Read morePublished 6 months ago by william pollak
I really liked Dave Eggers modernization of Arthur Miller's classic, Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman was "lost" as his expectations of his world shattered; he lost his job, his... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Peter R. Whitis
West and Middle East, both cultures face delusions of self-importance. America clings to its dazzling past glories, lone superpower to the world, refusing to acknowledge that the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer