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What Is the What: the autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: a novel / Dave Eggers. San Francisco: McSweeney's, 2006.
As One Book / One Philadelphia partners with the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Penn Libraries are making available more than three dozen copies of What Is the What, brought to Penn readers through a generous gift of the Free Library and its project sponsors.
"Dave Egger's triumphant act of witness: guilt and irony are at the heart of What is the What" / M. John Harrison. TLS: The Times Literary Supplement 5437 (June 13, 2007): 20.
"The most demanding part of the task must have been to stand away from the subject matter and allow it to breathe. Eggers has been so successful at this that What Is the What acts, if nothing else, as a triumphant rebuttal of Martin Amis's method for House of Meetings, a book in which the author's need to add literary value tended to obscure the very facts he was writing about." "The art has gone into throwing Valentino's voice." "It would be a mistake to think that Dave Eggers has given up irony. What he has done is to send it deep into the text where it can do its work."
"The lost boy" / Francine Prose New York Times Book Review (December 24, 2006): 1ff.
"The lyricism, the detail and, most important, the absolute specificity of these sentences are what make "What Is the What" so persuasive." "Dave Eggers has made the outlines of the tragedy in East Africa - so vague to so many Americans - not only sharp and clear but indelible. An eloquent testimony to the power of storytelling, "What Is the What" is an extraordinary work of witness, and of art."
"Survival of a Lost boy" / Colin Murphy. Irish Times (June 9, 2007): Book Reviews, 10.
"Valentino was Deng's baptismal name. Deng met the same priest years later, in one of the camps, and the priest told him he was named after St Valentine, who cured a girl of blindness. 'I think that you will have the power to make people see. I think you will remember what it was like to be here, you will see the lessons here, the priest said. The priest was right."
"This is not that place" / Thomas Jones. London Review of Books 29, 12 (June 21, 2007): 23-24.
"That a story so concerned with so many different forms of dispossession should itself be subject to a variety of appropriation is not unproblematic, and requires a more positive justification than mere silence." "Questions of authorship and ownership aside, the result is a remarkable book: harrowing, witty, wretched, delightful; and always compelling, always surprising.
"The niceness racket" / Lee Siegel. New Republic 236, 14 (April 23, 2007): 49-53.
"Just one more instance of the accelerating mash-up of truth and falsehood in the culture" "Innocent expropriation of another man's identity is a post-colonial arrogance."
"Children of war" / Dinaw Mengestu. New Statesman 136, 4847 (June 18, 2007): 60-61.
"Lost Boys who found their voices" / Rachel Holmes. The Times (June 2, 2007): Books, 9.
Reviewed alongside A long way gone: memoirs of a boy soldier / Ishmael Beah and God grew tired of us / John Bul Dau with Michael Sweeney.