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What Is the What
What Is the What
Author: Dave Eggers
The story of Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee of the Sudanese Civil War. Fleeing from his village in the mid 1980's, Deng becomes one of the so called Lost Boys -- children pursued by militias, government soldiers, lions and hyenas and myriad diseases, in their search for sanctuary, first in Ethiopia and then Kenya. Eventually Deng is resettled i...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780307385901
ISBN-10: 0307385906
Publication Date: 10/9/2007
Pages: 576
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 113 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed What Is the What on
Helpful Score: 5
The story has resonated with me for over a year since i first read it. I gave five copies as gifts b/c it is so moving. It's "fiction from truth" the stories of many Lost Boys of Sudan all rolled up into one.
My friend's student, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who is now a US college student, once told her during a fire drill "I didn't walk halfway across Rwanda to die in a fire at school"

that's what this book is about, w/out the humor. To survive the most horrendous experiences that these boys did, then to end up victims of crime and "the system" in America - it's heartbreaking - and at the same time, inspirational.
Read it, share it, remember it, and do something for others.
reviewed What Is the What on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I don't think the Book Description or the other two reviews encapsulate what this book is really about. Its just about one boy and his journey and the things he sees along the way. If you know about the lost boys you will figure it would just be tragic, but it is a pleasure to read because of Valentino Achak Deng's voice. You won't be sorry to read this worthwhile novel.
reviewed What Is the What on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
An amazing story of a boy growing up in the midst of social chaos created by civil war in Africa. One aspect which made the story interesting is the reflection of the past in Africa as a child with the present in the US as an adult.
reviewed What Is the What on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I read this book for a school assignment (at a really amazing expeditionary learning school) and really enjoyed it. It was a heartbreaking and yet intriguing story about a man who experienced far more brutality than most do. I am biased as I take special interest in the character's country of origin, it is very informational in terms of culture, both in his country of origin and in the United States. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand what's going on in the international and even local community.
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reviewed What Is the What on + 2 more book reviews
I absolutely loved this book. It is well written by Dave Eggers and narrated by the main character in this book about his years of struggle to gain freedom. It's the kind of book I didn't want to put down and didn't want it to end. I'm Valentino's facebook friend now... to follow his life.
reviewed What Is the What on + 3 more book reviews
thought provoking
reviewed What Is the What on + 7 more book reviews
An interesting biographical account of one man's life from the deserts of Sudan as a child to the streets of Atlanta as an adult. The story is good and I found myself sympathizing for the writer/protagonist, but he seems a bit arrogant at times. He apparently rose to the upper crust of the subculture he belonged to you, and he gives you continuous examples of this. I'm glad I read it, though.