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A Hologram for the King: A Novel (Vintage) Paperback – June 4, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307947513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307947512
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (278 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A Hologram for the King is an outstanding achievement in Eggers’s already impressive career, and an essential read.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“[A] clear, supremely readable parable of America in the global economy that is haunting, beautifully shaped, and sad. . . . A story human enough to draw blood…. Groundbreaking.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Completely engrossing. . . . Perfect.” —Fortune
 
"Dave Eggers is a prince among men. . . . A strike against the current state of global economic injustice." —Vanity Fair
 
“A fascinating novel.” —The New Yorker
 
“Eerie, suspenseful and tightly controlled.” —The Globe and Mail
 
“A comic but deeply affecting tale about one man's travails that also provides a bright, digital snapshot of our times.” —The New York Times
 
“Eggers’s most fully-realized character to date. . . . True genius.” —Boston Globe
 
“An unforgettable read.” —Entertainment Weekly

“A novel poised on the central meridian of our times. . . . Eggers maintains an exquisite balance of irony, empathy, dark humor, and unexpected tenderness in this taut exploration of the ever-increasing price of ordinary survival. A book as heartbreaking as the global economy it explores with such beauty and ferocity.” —National Book Awards citation
 
“Eggers, continuing the worldly outlook that informed his recent books Zeitoun and What Is the What, spins this spare story—a globalized Death of a Salesman—into a tightly controlled parable of America’s international standing and a riff on middle-class decline that approaches Beckett in its absurdist despair.” —The New York Times citation for Best Books of the Year
 
“Solidly constructed and elegantly told. There is nothing inaccessible about it. . . . Clay may not be like each of us, but he is an everyman whose irrelevancy is parallel to America’s own.” —Los Angeles Times
 
“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.” —The Chicago Tribune
 
“Fascinating. . . . A Hologram for the King, as far from home as it might seem, is an acute slice of American life.” —Tampa Bay Times
 
“A fresh surprise. . . . Strong and satisfying. 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?” —San Francisco Weekly
 
“Deft and darkly comic . . . A Hologram for the King is not only a portrait of a man in midlife trying desperately to salvage his future. The book is emblematic of what Eggers sees as wrong in America today: the collapse of homegrown industry, the outsourcing of labor, a loss of confidence, soured ideals. . . . But [it] isn’t a bummer—or if it is, it’s a bummer beautifully enlivened by oddball encounters and oddball characters, by stranger-in-a-strange-land episodes. . . . A Hologram for the King moves forward—a momentum of melancholy and possibility, driven by the meditations and memories of its once-noble American salesman hero.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“Eggers’s 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.” —San Jose Mercury News
 
“[Hologram] has at its center a sort of moral vision quest. . . . Alan’s plight is endearing in its universality, even while being singularly his.” —Time Out Chicago
 
A Hologram for the King presents us with the Great American Novel for this not-so-great America. . . . It strikes a new note for Eggers with its pervading sense of gallows humor.” —Baltimore City Paper
 
A Hologram for the King . . . reads fast and clear, with clean, stripped-down prose and a tone at once mournful and darkly amused. . . . It’s not that this world is changing, or that it will change. The world already changed, and now everyone, whether they like it or not, is tasked with figuring out how—or if—they can adapt.” —Portland Mercury

“A Beckettian masterpiece. . . . The finest work to date from an influential figure in American letters.” –The Telegraph (UK)

About the Author

Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books, including Zeitoun, winner of the American Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. What Is the What was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award and won France’s Prix Medici. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, which operates a secondary school in South Sudan run by Mr. Deng. 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 an oral history series, Voice of Witness. 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, New York, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Boston and Washington, DC, and similar centers now exist in London (the Ministry of Stories), Dublin (Fighting Words) and in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Melbourne, and many other cities. A native of Chicago, Eggers now 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

The main character wasn't very likable to me, and I found myself irritated with his choices.
Scott
It's a tedious book, and "a real pageturner" only in that you will want to turn the pages as fast as possible so you can get to a book that isn't boring.
CuriousPencil
The story is simple, very well crafted, and as is normal for Dave Eggers the writing is wonderful.
Ryan Reid

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

115 of 130 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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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Richard Harborough on July 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Dave Eggers' newest novel, 'A Hologram for the King' is a strange journey into Saudi Arabia after the financial crisis of the late 2000's.

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.
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288 of 371 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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