Valentino's travels, truly Biblical in scope, bring him in contact with government soldiers, Janjaweed-like militias, liberation rebels, hyenas and lions, disease and starvation, and a string of unexpected romances. Ultimately, Valentino finds safety in Kenya and, just after the millennium, is finally resettled in the United States, from where this novel is narrated. In this book, written with expansive humanity and surprising humor, we come to understand the nature of the conflicts in Sudan, the refugee experience in America, the dreams of the Dinka people, and the challenge one indomitable man faces in a world collapsing around him.
©2006 Dave Eggers; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks America
"Engrossing." (Publishers Weekly)
This is a moving account of the basis of the current conflict in Sudan. Eggers creates an enthralling composite of individual accounts of the countless horrifying stories of the orphaned children of war, told from the point of view of the young refugee, Valentino Acack Deng. While the story tends to drag from time to time, it is wonderfully genuine and moving. I seriously considered reaching out to African refugees here in the states before forgetting about it and going back to playing Wii. Seriously a great novel, my favorite of his above A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
This is an outstanding story about a courageous human and his drive to survive in a world everybit as hellish as the halocost. The narrator is superb with an ability to seamlessly jump between an east African accent to one from the American ghetto.
If life seems to be a bit too difficult read this and it will make you appreciate how good a life you have.
Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.
This book is amazing. The narrator is wonderful and engaging, I love his accent. His does the voices of all the characters excellently. This story is both heart warming and heart breaking. It is an incredible story of struggle and the human spirit. I think it should be required reading. I highly recommend it
This was a very good audiobook -- the sound was great and narration was excellent. The story keeps your interest the entire time. You wind up really liking the characters. The first person account is very revealing about what is happening in and around Sudan. My biggest issue is that it is a novel -- I did listen to the introduction, but what is "real" and what is fictionalized? This is a great accompaniment to "The Devil Rides on Horseback"
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Having read the highly self-referential A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius a few months ago, I had no idea what to expect from Eggers in a novel about a Sudanese refugee. I couldn't imagine how the same writing style would work on that topic.
But Eggers plays it straight this time and simply tells a story. And it's a beautiful, moving story told with thoughtfulness, compassion, and a sense of humor. The narrative of the central character, Valentino, doesn't fail to convey the horrors of the Sudan conflict, but neither does it beat the reader over the head with tragedy. Valentino's calm voice instead makes East Africa (and the American experience of an African immigrant) real, impressing the reader with the fact that the Sudanese are as colorful, complex, and rich in their lives as anyone else. The fact that Valentino's both remarkably aware and astonishingly naive as a character makes him a fascinating witness to this turbulent history.
A wonderful book.
As far as the audio aspect of the novel goes, the reader did a great job with Valentino's accents and mannerisms, as well as those of Afro-American characters. The voices he does for some of the side characters were a little too cutesy for my liking, but it didn't drag down the overall listening experience.
I've been grabbing every Eggers book I can get my hands on since I came across "A Heartbreaking Work...." This displays Eggers story telling ability on a grand, not-so-self-absorbed level. I was inspired. And the reading is one of the best readings I've ever listened to, Dion Graham really brought the story of Atchuk Deng to life.
The engaging story told by the author truly defines the meaning of survivor. The harrowing tale of Achak keeps the listener rapt with awe at what he and many others went through and actually survived. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an inspiring tale of loss and survival.
This important story of heroic Achuk Deng is told by Graham with Oscar winning talent and written by Eggers with Nobel Prize winning skill. The reading is great but Graham's acting ability brings the story home. Should be required reading for all North Americans.
This is so well written and the narrator is fabulous. African accented English makes it all believable. If you want background on the problems of Sudan, this is the book for you.
Epic in scope, but told in a very personal, down-to-earth fashion. The material itself is striking. Even if you've been aware of what happened in the Sudan, I expect hearing about what the people endured as part of the story of an individual life would still be eye-opening. I wasn't that well-informed, so it was certainly interesting for me.
Despite the excellent source matter, however, the story is somewhat crudely told. While Eggers has a fantastic sense of voice and really personalizes all of the characters, the overall handling of the plot arc felt clumsy and gimmicky at times, and the way the historical material is introduced through the Valentino's present-day inner monologue addressed at various people in his daily life gets to be a tired trick after a while. Also, the attempt to include everything possible about the Sudanese people's experiences in this one person's individual story leads to a certain straining of plausibility after a while that's only partly explained away by having the other characters themselves remark that God must have something against him. The pacing of the context switches seems slightly off in a way that often leaves you wanting to hear more about the part you're not hearing about now, whichever part that may be. There are a couple of things which are introduced multiple times during the course of the story in a way that seems more accidental than artistic, and oddly, given that at several points the story felt a little long, the book eventually just sort of ... stops, dropping the story in an unsatisfying fashion.
That said, the source material is so compelling that even a muddled rendition of it provides for an extremely worthwhile read, and Dion Graham does a riveting job as the narrator, with excellent voices for most of the characters and a fantastic command of the cadence and character of the principal character's voice that makes the book wonderful to hear.
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