Gone Far, Still Going

Real life hero Valentino Achak Deng.

Real life hero Valentino Achak Deng. Cover Art by Rachell Sumpter hide caption

itoggle caption Cover Art by Rachell Sumpter

Ok, so I know I'm waaaay behind... but last night, I finished reading Dave Eggers' latest novel, What is the What. But, the book does come out in paperback next week, so maybe I'm just getting a jump on the renewed coverage? Anyway, it's absolutely incredible... one of those books that stays with you for a long time. My friend Kim finished it months ago, and it's still the fastest way to get her attention — "wah wah wah wah ACHAK DENG wah wah" — her head will whip around so fast her eyes go blurry. And now I know why. For those of you who haven't read it yet, What is the What is the story of Valentino Achak Deng, a Lost Boy of Sudan. He's told his story to Eggers, who presents it to us, embellished to flesh it out as a story of both one Lost Boy, Achak, and as the story of the Lost Boys. It's a story worse than harrowing, but more rich than simply terrifying. There are beautiful moments of levity and warmth, coupled with the days — nay, weeks and months and years — darker than I could previously imagine. When I closed the book for the last time, my mind was swirling... and first thing this morning I searched NPR.org to see if we'd covered the book. I discovered this treasure — an interview with Eggers and Valentino (aka Achak, and many other names I won't spoil), and am listening to Valentino's voice as I type now. It's a fitting coda to my hours spent in his world, and I hope you enjoy it too*.

*Beware... there's a bit of a spoiler at the end. If you want to avoid it, stop listening to the file when Eggers finishes speaking, at 8:18.

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