What is the What Book Summary - What is the What Book explained in key points

What is the What summary

Dave Eggers

Brief summary

What is the What by Dave Eggers is a heartbreaking and inspiring true story that follows Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. It chronicles his harrowing journey through war, displacement, and ultimately, his quest for a better life.

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    What is the What
    Summary of key ideas

    Surviving the Unimaginable

    In What is the What by Dave Eggers, we follow the life of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese refugee who was forced to flee his village during the Second Sudanese Civil War. At the tender age of seven, Valentino's life is turned upside down when his village is attacked by the Sudanese military. He embarks on a perilous journey, along with thousands of other boys, to escape the violence and find safety.

    Valentino's journey is fraught with danger, as he and his companions face starvation, attacks from wild animals, and the constant threat of enemy soldiers. Despite these hardships, Valentino's resilience and determination keep him going. He forms close bonds with his fellow travelers, and together they navigate the harsh terrain, hoping to find refuge in Ethiopia.

    Struggles in Exile

    Upon reaching Ethiopia, Valentino and his friends are initially relieved to find a refugee camp. However, their respite is short-lived as they soon face new challenges. The Ethiopian government, facing its own internal conflicts, forces the refugees to leave. Valentino and his friends are once again on the move, this time back into Sudan.

    Back in Sudan, the boys are caught in the middle of the war once more. They are forced to flee yet again, this time to Kenya. The journey to Kenya is long and treacherous, and many of Valentino's friends do not survive. Those who do make it to Kenya are met with the harsh reality of life in a refugee camp, where resources are scarce, and violence is a constant threat.

    Hope and Despair in America

    After years of living in the refugee camp, Valentino is selected for resettlement in the United States. His arrival in America is both a dream come true and a rude awakening. He is overwhelmed by the culture shock and the challenges of adapting to a new way of life. Despite the support of his foster family and the local community, Valentino struggles with feelings of isolation and homesickness.

    Valentino's difficulties in America are compounded by the ongoing violence in Sudan. He is haunted by the fate of his family and friends back home and feels a deep sense of survivor's guilt. He also faces discrimination and misunderstanding from those who cannot comprehend the horrors he has endured. Despite these challenges, Valentino perseveres, determined to make a better life for himself and to help his people back in Sudan.

    Valentino's Ongoing Journey

    As the book concludes, Valentino is still grappling with his past and his present. He is studying at a university, working part-time, and advocating for the people of Sudan. He has founded the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, which aims to provide educational opportunities for Sudanese children. Despite the unimaginable hardships he has faced, Valentino remains hopeful and determined to make a positive impact.

    In What is the What, Dave Eggers presents a powerful and moving account of one man's extraordinary journey. Through Valentino's story, we gain insight into the devastating impact of war and displacement, as well as the resilience of the human spirit. The book serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggles faced by refugees around the world and the importance of compassion and understanding in addressing their plight.

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    What is What is the What about?

    What is the What is a novel by Dave Eggers that tells the story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. It is a powerful account of Deng's journey from his war-torn homeland to the United States, depicting the harsh realities of war, displacement, and the search for a better life. Through Deng's voice, the book brings attention to the plight of refugees and the resilience of the human spirit.

    What is the What Review

    What is the What (2006) by Dave Eggers sheds light on the incredible story of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese refugee who endured unimaginable hardships. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With heartbreaking honesty, it offers a glimpse into the realities of war, displacement, and survival, making it a profound and thought-provoking read.
    • The book seamlessly weaves together Deng's personal experiences, capturing the resilience of the human spirit and the power of hope in the face of adversity.
    • Through Deng's compelling narrative, it educates and raises awareness about the refugee crisis, fostering empathy and understanding in its readers.

    Who should read What is the What?

    • Individuals interested in refugee experiences and human displacement
    • Readers who enjoy personal narratives and social justice issues
    • Those looking to gain perspective on the complexities of war and its impact on innocent civilians

    About the Author

    Dave Eggers is an American author known for his compelling storytelling and unique writing style. He has written several critically acclaimed books, including A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and The Circle. Eggers is also the founder of McSweeney's, a publishing house that produces a literary journal and various works of fiction and nonfiction. With his thought-provoking narratives and dedication to social issues, Eggers has established himself as a prominent voice in contemporary literature.

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    What is the What FAQs 

    What is the main message of What is the What?

    The main message of What is the What is the power of resilience and hope in the face of adversity.

    How long does it take to read What is the What?

    The reading time for What is the What varies, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is What is the What a good book? Is it worth reading?

    What is the What is a compelling book that is definitely worth reading. It offers a unique perspective on the refugee experience and the human capacity for resilience.

    Who is the author of What is the What?

    The author of What is the What is Dave Eggers.

    What to read after What is the What?

    If you're wondering what to read next after What is the What, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Rogue States by Noam Chomsky
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    • The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich August von Hayek
    • Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
    • Manufacturing Consent by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
    • No Logo by Naomi Klein
    • The Great Degeneration by Niall Ferguson
    • The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier
    • The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein