An Almost Made Up Poem


On Reading Dave Eggers’s ‘What is the What?’
April 26, 2008, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Article

After reading and exstensively writing about AHWOSG¬†, it was hard to imagine seperating Eggers the Author from any of his writing. However, in What is What? I find myself not only forgetting who is writing Valentino Deng’s autobiography, but also, completely engrossed in a world completely outside of my own. The life of the Sudanese is one I have regretfully never contemplated as I have always indulged in the literartire, in the realms that are most familiar to me. I have read about the Holocaust, about poverty in Latin America, and about America’s social and political strifes, but never have I been exposed to African Literaturature that has exposed a genicide so remote, so isolated, so ignored by Western civilization.

What makes this book so poignantly significant is its attention to America’s apathy, its utter dismissal of all things alien. In America’s cold, insincere aide to the Sudenese Lost Boys, the reader is able to glance at the true crime of Western civilization: its inability to observe its similiarities to Sudan. By experiencing the jungle, the desperation of exile, the magnimity of true hgunger, Deng is more apt with his senses, more observational than most narrators. His voice illuminates the similirities between the disparities and injustices in Africa and those in the U.S. Very poetically, Deng juxtaposes his own loss of innocence as a ‘rebel’ leaving Suidan, to that of the criminal and cruel world of juvenial dilenquency in the US. The manner which Deng struggles to find happiness in America only highlights that the¬†real “lost boys” are that of America not Sudan.¬†Through the eyes of Deng, the reader can view the invisible division¬†that the US has made between First world and Third World, between¬†Civilization and Savagery, as mere social constructs, faling to convey or even acknowledge their similirities. It seems that the “What” haunts the novel as a reminder of the corruption and decay of humankind in America, where the jungle is man-made.

As I read Book 2 of What is the What? , I want to be able to let go of these dichotomies that have been engrained in my psyche. While I read, the immensity of such human atrocities haunts my every thought and make it very hard not to feel emotional while reading.