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What is the What Paperback – October 9, 2007
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“[An] Astonishing story … of immerse power, emotion and even, in the midst of horror, beauty.” —Salman Rushdie
“Told with humor, humanity, and bottomless compassion for his subject. . . . It is impossible to read this book and not be humbled, enlightened, transformed.” —Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner
“Lit by lightning flashes of humor, wisdom and charm. . . . An extraordinary work of witness, and of art.” —Francine Prose, The New York Times Book Review
“A moving, frightening, improbably beautiful book.” —Lev Grossman, Time
“A testament to the triumph of hope over experience, human resilience over tragedy and disaster.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"An absolute classic. . . . Compelling, important, and vital to the understanding of the politics and emotional consequences of oppression." —Jonathan Durbin, People
“A sweet and sometimes very funny story of one boy’s coming of age. . . . Strange, beautiful and unforgettable.” —John Freeman, San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Dave Eggers is the author of three previous books, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity!, and How We Are Hungry. He is the editor of McSweeney’s, a quarterly magazine and book-publishing company, and is cofounder of 826 Valencia, a network of nonprofit writing and tutoring centers for young people. His interest in oral history led to his 2004 cofounding of Voice of Witness, a nonprofit series of books that use oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. As a journalist, his work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, and The Believer. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area with his wife and daughter.
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After a six-year transitional period, Independence was declared in 2011. Garang’s morose successor Salva Kiir never presented a clear plan or ideology for South Sudan’s future. Instead, his attitude about ethnic conflict by his own violence-prone Dinka clan vs rival clans, then other tribes, notably the equally violent Nuer, has created blatant nepotism, massive corruption and transfers of oil funds abroad by a tiny in crowd. A presumed coup attempt in 2013 resulted in tens of thousands of dead and millions of refugees and IDPs, hard to reach by aid workers prone to attack, rape and robbery in their hotel rooms by government soldiers, or while travelling overland by anyone carrying guns.
Re emergency relief, the ICRC (a major player worldwide and in SS) uses the concept of ‘residual responsibility’ when its most pressing targets have been met: which agency will take over what, where are we still indispensible? Is this concept applicable to the broad swath of nations that supported for years SS independence militarily, financially, diplomatically? Was their mission accomplished in 2011? Legitimizing SS in UN-terms, opening embassies in Juba, soon seeing the dream collapse in chaos and despair, an environment unfit and unsafe to service investments made, let alone making new ones?
Nothing here is meant to disparage Dave Eggers’ wonderful book. Eritrea was an earlier beauty that went its own way. It became so repressive that its young citizens want out, at great risk and cost. I fear for the future of South Sudan’s young generation and hope this outburst will be picked up somewhere.
I woke the next morning to the horrific news about the terror attacks in the east, and had a moment of pause when I thought of the story of th he Sudanese refugees I saw the night before. I thought that their plight would then go unnoticed , being overshadowed by the advent of certain war.
From then I noticed these elegant men arriving in my city and wondering at their stories, their strength, and with time, triumphs. We are proud to read of our new residents accomplishments. I have always remained curious about their stories. Thankfully, now I have read this account of one "lost boy's" origin, which has given me a better framework of understanding the stories of these victims of war.
I applaud the courage of the refugee, the immigrant and the power of hope that has transformed their lives. Thank you for sharing this story
The story is the true story of Achak Deng, who is forced to flee his village in South Sudan after a civil war breaks out. The characters are rich and compelling and the story of his journey from South Sudan, to a refugee camp, and eventually to the United States is beautiful.
I have shared this book with relatives and clients alike. It reads like a novel and gives you a view into a world you may have heard of but don't know much about.