Year 4, Book 4

4. What is the What by Dave Eggars
This book is kind of interesting in that it is fictional, but based loosely on the life of a real person. The story follows one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan through his childhood in his small village in Sudan and eventually refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. The stories from Sudan are interspersed with tales about his life in Atlanta after he is brought to the United States as one of the lost boys.

Parts of the book are really sad and exemplify how hard it is for people living in these worn torn countries and how hard their lives are even if they do get to leave.

I was really enjoying the book at the beginning, but somewhere about halfway through I just stopped caring. I felt like there were too many superfluous stories thrown in, which I think I would have minded less if it was a memoir instead of fiction. In that case I would have thought well he’s just trying to relay his story, but since it was fiction I just felt there was no point in them being there. At over 500 pages the book was way too long and a lot of it I think could have been cut without losing the message of the book.

I also wish that the book had provided me with a better understanding of the conflict in Sudan. It did sort of address some of the issues that led to the war, but not in a way that really made me comprehend anything. I also still wonder how the conflict talked about the book is related to what is currently going on in Darfur because I get the feeling they are not totally connected. Of course this is my own ignorance blaming a fiction book for not making me more informed. Perhaps I should a non-fiction book on the conflict to get myself more up to speed. As I was reading I was just hoping to get a clearer picture of why stuff was going on, but I never really did. It’s probably too much to ask though for a fiction book to enlighten me on a conflict that seems to go back forever.

I give it a 5 out of 10. I probably would have rated it higher if it hadn’t dragged on for so darn long.

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