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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of The Monk of Mokha and The Circle comes a taut, suspenseful story of two foreigners' role in a nation's fragile peace.

An unnamed country is leaving the darkness of a decade at war, and to commemorate the armistice, the government commissions a new road connecting two halves of the state. 

Two men, foreign contractors from the same company, are sent to finish the highway. While one is flighty and adventurous, wanting to experience the nightlife and people, the other wants only to do the work and go home. But both men must eventually face the absurdities of their positions and the dire consequences of their presence. 

With echoes of J. M. Coetzee and Graham Greene, this timeless novel questions whether we can ever understand another nation's war and what role we have in forging anyone's peace.

©2019 Dave Eggers (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator Dion] Graham delivers outstanding voicework that captures the two characters' personalities.... The contrast between them, especially Four's increasing exasperation with Nine, borders on black comedy. But Graham keeps a balanced tone that maintains the story's tension and doesn't undercut its themes." (AudioFile)

"In an unnamed country, two unnamed employees of a foreign road-building corporation arrive for a 12-day assignment... Readers, too, are shut out of any background information on either man, an authorial choice that generates a subtle tension throughout the novel.... Eggers differentiates between Four and Nine solely through their reactions to the post-civil-war devastation around them. How this setup reduces the two men to their willingness - or refusal - to see others is striking.... Parable-like.... The final scene of the novel contains such ferocity." (Idra Novey, The New York Times Book Review

"In Dave Eggers’s new novel, The Parade, two men go on a journey: flat, direct and more dangerous than either will admit.... The narrative is deliberately unbranded, unspecific. The enthusiastic, inexperienced partner goes by Nine. This pushes the narrative into an allegorical space, even as we are up close and personal with the two on their trip from south to north.... Eggers has been writing fiction that tells a story of America in our present moment, and often that moment is characterized by decline.... To environmental devastation, violence, the power of social media, the loss of the middle class, we can now add American abroad, over their heads.... Darkly funny." (Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times)

"Dave Eggers is able to see the world as it is, while also holding on to his vision of how the world should be." (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

What listeners say about The Parade

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Another Challenging Eggers Work

Dave Eggers is an enigma. This is the fifth book of his that I have tackled and I’m never sure exactly why I have undertaken it. Not that he’s not a fine writer. He is. But he’s all over the lot. His subject matter ranges from the reaction to the current state of society, as in Zeitoun and The Circle, to fever dreams like Hologram for the King and What is the What.

Maybe that is the attraction. His work shows a deep commitment to what he’s trying to express and he draws you in to follow his struggle. Sometimes he loses me completely but often I really enjoy the trip.

The Parade falls somewhere in the middle. This is a very short book that on the surface deals with an incredibly dull topic: road paving. Two characters are assigned to drive a mechanized paving vehicle connecting two previously hostile Middle Eastern countries. The characters are relatively two-dimensional and there’s little action as we follow their mission. But Eggers’ style creates an atmosphere of dread that mesmerized the reader. You know the story is going somewhere and you will continue the slog.

I won’t give away the rationale of the story except to say that there is one and I felt it was well developed and relevant to today’s culture. As I write this I realize that Parade reminded me a little of Beckett and some of the Absurdist Theatre pieces of the Sixties. Even fifty years later, they still have something to say to us. I only gave the book three stars because of its slow pace and lack of dramatic arc, but I don’t regret spending these few hours inside Eggers’ head. The narration was very well done and in keeping with the style of the writer.

5 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

I loved everything about this story! Excellent narration. Story was interesting from start to finish.

1 person found this helpful

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The Not-So Obvious Ending

Funny and tragic story; what can possibly go wrong with well-intentioned and ill-informed foreign aid? This story could have taken place in almost any third-world county, and without too much effort certain aspects could have been changed—but the ending would be the same. Dave Eggers has a policy position, but it is very subtle and best seen across various books.

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Great book, regrettable reader

The Audible reader does the author and the listener a disservice by reading the character Nine's dialogue in such a way as to make him sound ridiculous. Yes, a good reader will help a listener discern one character from another, but it is not right to bias a listener by creating a negative impression of a character.

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Short, but not sweet

This book was recommended to me by someone that lives in the Horn of Africa because it is a story full of the idiosyncrasies of living in a war-ravaged country. The tech and the mode of working seem far-fetched, and the personalities, a bit extreme. It really tells the story of a single event that could go very bad. It may be helpful to someone working for a large company with vast resources, but for the average cross-cultural worker, there is very little that is relatable. No SAT phones, no guns, no grenades, no back-up. Read it if you find yourself looking for something, otherwise, move closer to the bottom of your reading list.

1 person found this helpful