870 Words4 Pages
In the midst of a raging civil war between rebels and a corrupt government, young boy Valentino Achak Deng traveled alone around Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya, in search of rescue, his family, and a place to call home. Years later, upon his move to Atlanta, Georgia, Deng assisted author Dave Eggers in writing a novel about his life. Often considered a picaresque story of adolescence and triumph, What is the What, conveys invaluable messages to the reader while maintaining an entertaining, even humorous at times, story. Looking through the eyes of a victim of the war, the novel manages to cast Valentino as a hero, not soley for his survival, but also for his realization that war and terror are omnipresent. What is the What graces anyone who dares to open it's cover with learning heartening motifs, the rich culture of a country that seems to live in it’s own universe, and the sacredy of child hood. Opening on a scene where Valentino is already settled in America, What is the What surprises readers expectant of a setting in Southern Africa with the busy streets of Georgia. The first conflict introduced to the reader is that of Valentino robbed, held hostage, and tantalized with the nickname, “Africa.” The message is clear; war is everywhere. Beginning in the late 1900’s, with a complex past far earlier, the Sudanese civil war continues to be the longest running civil war in African history. Only recently did the war make any progress, granting South Sudan independence on July 9th, 2011. Over two million innocent civilians dead, and four million displaced persons, the war has left Sudan fraught with turmoil and it’s people overwhelmed with fear. Author, Dave Eggers, relays to the reader that although he may have escaped a phy... ... middle of paper ... ...hat children are exposed to. In What is the What, Eggers makes it obvious to the reader that child hood is a precious gift. The simple game of hide and seek becomes highly appreciated after reading What is the What. A powerful tale of a boy forced to grow up overnight, alone, bewildered, and struggling to survive, What is the What puts a fresh spin on the classic tale of triumph by imposing upon the reader powerful lessons. From cultural enrichment on the Dinka people to appreciation of childhood, Eggers makes it clear that the tale is meant to impact lives forever. Reading of a childs life, with no shortage of unimaginable horrors, the reader can only hope to learn half as much as Eggers hopes you do. Regardless of quantity, anyone brave enough to pick up What is the What will surely be awed by it’s poetic ability to capture both the hearts and minds of readers.
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