Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Hologram for the King- review

While I have wanted to read a Dave Eggers novel for a while, I never really took the initiative to buy his works. Many friends had recommended The Circle, which I planning on getting soon, but in spite of that, I never got any of his books. I finally came across A Hologram for the King while at a book fair. Two things immediately popped out at me; the title- which made me think it was some sci-fi story, and the cover itself (see picture) which I found gorgeous. Summary and review after the jump.

In a rising Saudi Arabian city, far from weary, recession-scarred America, a struggling businessman pursues a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter's college tuition, and finally do something great. In A Hologram for the King, Dave Eggers takes us around the world to show how one man fights to hold himself and his splintering family together in the face of the global economy's gale-force winds. This taut, richly layered, and elegiac novel is a powerful evocation of our contemporary moment - and a moving story of how we got here.

So, I was immediately aware that this was far from anything sci-fi. The hologram is in fact an actual hologram, a communication IT tool that Alan Clay, the protagonist is presenting to the King of Saudi Arabia. I have to admit, this isn’t a kind of novel I would normally go for. It is actually one of those books where I want to say nothing at all happens. But that’s not entirely true, the nothing that happens actually leads something. Alan, is completely disheartened by the situation he finds himself in, and as his stay in Saudi Arabia continues I started to feel much more compassion for him than at the novel’s beginning. He is an embodiment of everything you want to do right, but through circumstances never really comes to fruition. The novel also touches upon the outsourcing countless jobs and the effect of that on the American economy. Alan is both guilty of this act and quickly falls victim to it as well. I wanted to scream at him several times when he was so close to the right choice and doesn’t choose it. His wait to meet the King of Saudi Arabia is as nerve-racking to the reader, as if your life, just like Alan’s, in a sense, depended on it. Eggers is able to use very little, to convey a broken man who is trying everything to make things right, not just for him, but for his friends and loved ones. The novel’s prose reads extremely easily, making it ideal for anyone looking to pick up a good (and easy, yet not dull/simple) book. I’m looking forward to reading more of Dave Eggers.

You can buy the book here

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