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A Hologram for the King Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; First Edition edition (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9.78194E+12
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936365746
  • ASIN: 193636574X
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A National Book Award Finalist, A Northern California Book Award Finalist

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

“Completely engrossing.”
—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

About the Author

Dave Eggers is the bestselling author of seven books including A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award; Zeitoun, winner of the American Book Award and Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and What Is the What, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won France’s Prix Medici. In 2002, with Ninive Calegari he cofounded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities around the country have since opened sister 826 centers. Eggers lives in Northern California with his wife and two children.

More About the Author

Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books, including "Zeitoun," a nonfiction account a Syrian-American immigrant and his extraordinary experience during Hurricane Katrina and "What Is the What," a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in southern Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, run by Mr. Deng and dedicated to building secondary schools in southern Sudan. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine ("The Believer"), and "Wholphin," a quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries. In 2002, with Nínive Calegari he co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities have since opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Seattle, and Boston. In 2004, Eggers taught at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and there, with Dr. Lola Vollen, he co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. A native of Chicago, Eggers graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.

Customer Reviews

I found the book depressing and often boring.
Well written but the protagonist is just not a very sympathetic character.
The book has the feel of an idea the author is working out.
Mark Mezadourian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

108 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Zimmerman on July 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There's a very good reason that the world of business consulting is under-represented in literary fiction. If "interesting" is Tokyo, tales of "win-win" and "streamlined synergies" are London. But that didn't stop Dave Eggers from making his main character of his new novel, A Hologram for the King, exactly the kind of business bonehead whose natural habitat is the airport hotel bar.

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.
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268 of 345 people found the following review helpful By zashibis on December 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
About once a year I end up reading a book so resoundingly terrible, so utterly hackneyed and half-assed, so mysteriously lauded by a featherbrained coterie of newspaper review-writing hacks (here's looking at you Michiko Katukani!) but so wonderfully devoid of any artistry or insight, that I end up finishing it out of something like the morbid fascination that makes a person rubber-neck at an especially horrific car accident. Congratulations, Mr. Eggers: in 2012 that book was yours.

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.
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106 of 137 people found the following review helpful By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is 2010, and Alan Clay is waiting. Not for Godot, but for King Abdullah, in the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), which is a developing Red Sea port in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He is a 54-year-old failed American businessman in serious debt, evading his creditors and anguishing over how he will pay for his daughter's next year in college. He also has an angry ex-wife and a worrying lump on his neck. This is his last hurrah, a chance to turn his life from sad and broke to flush and secure, if he and his young team from Reliant can pitch this hologram presentation to the King and win an IT contract.

Alan is a bit of a sad sack, arriving at his failures largely due to the outsourcing of American business manufacturing. He was once a confident, prosperous sales executive with Schwinn, until he made some bad decisions, such as trying to convert a Soviet-era factory in Budapest to a capitalistic model. Sometime after that catastrophe, he followed the trend of globalization, and was instrumental in shipping Schwinn's labor to China. That was the end of Schwinn's American prosperity.

"How did your suppliers become your competitors? That was a rhetorical question...Teach a man to fish. Now the Chinese know how to fish, and ninety-nine percent of all bicycles are being made there in one province."

Moreover, his father, now retired, had been a committed union man with Stride Rite, and treated Alan with contempt for his past misdeeds and his new job with Reliant.

"They're making actual things over there, and we're making websites and holograms...while sitting in chairs made in China, working on computers made in China, driving over bridges made in China. Does this sound sustainable to you, Alan?
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