What Is the What

What Is the What

The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng : A Novel

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A biographical novel traces the story of Valentino Achak Deng, who as a boy of seven was separated from his family when his village in southern Sudan was attacked by government helicopters and became one of the estimated 17,000 "lost boys of Sudan" before relocating from a Kenyan refugee camp to Atlanta in 2001.
Publisher: ** E-Book // Click on DOWNLOAD link to place holds
ISBN: 9780792749783
Branch Call Number: EBOOK AUDIO


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Jun 04, 2018

Heard Obama had his staff read this book. I tried to read it, but couldn’t continue. I’ve read Dave Eggers who is easy to follow in an ADHD way. But I couldn’t finish the CD’s. A tragic story of the Civil War in the Sudan told by Deng, who survived the atrocities. Comes to America to be robbed and beaten by an African American. Go figure. That’s all the further I got.

bnotash70 Apr 19, 2014

I read The Circle, also by Eggers, and wanted more of his amazing writing! The story of a Sudanese lost boy was just as absorbing, but on a totally different subject. The book led me to a deeper understanding of the horrible plight the child-victims of war suffer, then, when they are rescued by NGO's and resettled, the difficulties they face.
Great story, and the reader's wonderful African accent only makes ir better to listen to!

Jan 14, 2014

This book surpassed my expectations in a big way. It's fascinating to read about Valentino's experience in America interspersed with the amazing story of his journey out of a war-torn Sudan. My favorite scene is when he is corresponding with his father via CB radio after believeing his whole family to be dead. For anyone looking to read a compelling faux-autobiography, learn about Africa, or just get in some good cerebral entertainment, go for it!

Mar 16, 2012

Dave Eggers' writing in What is the What magnificently captures the plight of the lost boys of Sudan. It is told from the point of view of real lost boy Valentino Achak Deng from a blend of his own history, other boys' stories and fictional recreations. Valentino's hardships in Sudan and his eventual escape are paralleled in the the present as he adapts to his new life in America.

This book works on multiple levels and I suppose the most important tale here is the larger story of the lost boys. The author, from interviews with Deng himself, eventually settled on a type of partially fictional narrative blending the stories of many into one. This works to tell the story in the best way possible (and also pays homage to the Sudanese own cultural predisposition towards embellishment). This doesn't work when you're wondering which parts of Deng's life are real or fictional. Does it matter? For me only a little since there's a greater story here that's bigger than one man's personal history.

Jan 15, 2011

I listened to the audio cd version of this book. Wow, great reader/narrator. I agree with Lori Anderson's review..........great book on so many different levels. Inspiring and sobering. Highly recommended read. Not for younger readers.

Jan 01, 2010

A sobering story, though fictionalized, about one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. It's a journey of heartbreaking privation, brutality and hopelessness, and is told with much humanity, sincerity and even humor on occasion. The story is structured creatively, allowing the listener to learn about Achak's past life through a current trauma he is experiencing. This is a book that I recommend to Americans who have not strayed far from their own cultural doorstep. The reader does simply an awe-inspiring interpretation of the protagonist's experience, portraying the sweet naivete of this young African boy, his hopes and fears, and his fierce determination to survive. Dion Graham is one of the best readers I have listened to.


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