A Hologram for the King

A Hologram for the King

3.0 28
by Dave Eggers
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eggers's first unabashedly fictional, original novel in some time nonetheless grounds itself as firmly in the real world as Zeitoun or What is the What. Businessman Alan Clay has reached middle age with experience in manufacturing and door-to-door salesmanship considered almost wholly anachronistic and in post-industrial America, "as intriguing... as an airplane built from mud." Deeply in debt and unable to continue paying for his daughter Kit to go to college, Alan finds himself in Saudi Arabia awaiting the arrival of "the Kingdom's" elusive monarch for a chance to pitch his employer, Reliant, as the information technology supplier for a massive new King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) development. In limbo, Alan writes letters to Kit that he'll never mail, frets about his health (he's discovered a growth on his neck), and wrestles with insecurity over his past personal and business failings. This conflation of Waiting for Godot and Save the Tiger is unsurprising, if sympathetic, in its portrait of a global economy with all the solidity of a sandcastle. Eggers strikes fresh and genuine notes, however, in Alan's burgeoning friendship with the young Saudi man, Yousef, assigned to be his driver. Both Eggers's fans and those previously resistant to his work will find a spare but moving elegy for the American century. (June)
From the Publisher

A National Book Award Finalist, A Northern California Book Award Finalist

One of the New York Times Book Review's "Top Ten Books of 2012"

“Mr. Eggers uses a new, pared down, Hemingwayesque voice to recount his story... he demonstrates in Hologram that he is master of this more old-fashioned approach as much as he was a pioneering innovator with A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius....[This] sad-funny-dreamlike story unfolds to become an allegory about the frustrations of middle-class America, about the woes unemployed workers and sidelined entrepreneurs have experienced in a newly globalized world in which jobs are being outsourced abroad.... A comic but deeply affecting tale about one man’s travails that also provides a bright, digital snapshot of our times.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A spare but moving elegy for the American century.”—Publishers Weekly

"Eggers can do fiction as well as he likes.”—Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times

“A potent, well-drawn portrait of one man’s discovery of where his personal and professional selves split and connect.”—Kirkus Reviews

“An extraordinary work of timely and provocative themes...This novel reminds us that above all, Eggers is a writer of books, and a writer of the highest order….An outstanding achievement in Eggers's already impressive career, and an essential read.”—Carmela Ciuraru, The San Francisco Chronicle

“Eggers understands the pressures of American downward-mobility, and in the protagonist of his novel, Alan Clay, has created an Everyman, a post-modern Willy Loman….The novel operates on a grand and global scale, but it also is intimate.”—Elizabeth Taylor, The Chicago Tribune

“Fascinating...Although Godot may be Hologram's philosophical source, Eggers is no Beckettian minimalist. The novel is paradoxically suspenseful, but it's also rich in character and in Eggers's evocative writing about place…A Hologram for the King, as far from home as it might seem, is an acute slice of American life.”—Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

"Dave Eggers is a prince among men when it comes to writing deeply felt, socially conscious books that meld reportage with fiction. While A Hologram for the King is fiction...it’s a strike against the current state of global economic injustice."
—Elissa Schappell,Vanity Fair

“Completely engrossing.”
—Daniel Roberts, Fortune

“A heartbreaking character study.”—Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness

“Deft and darkly comic…Beautifully enlivened by oddball encounters and oddball characters, by stranger-in-a-strange-land episodes.”—Steven Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Eggers’ spare prose is a pleasure, and A Hologram for the King proves to be a deft blend of surreal adventure, absurd comedy and pointed observations.”—Georgia Rowe, San Jose Mercury News

“As the kingless days pass, Alan ventures from the tent and hotel into the rich, unsettling realities of the Kingdom, and Eggers ventures deeper into Alan, as well as into the question that has seemingly guided Eggers’ work for years: What does it mean to be an American in a world that has places like the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, or post-Katrina New Orleans?”—Alan Scherstuhl, San Francisco Weekly

“[Hologram] has at its center a sort of moral vision quest... Alan’s plight is endearing in its universality, even while being singularly his.”—Jonathan Messinger, Time Out Chicago

"Eggers has given us a work of fiction that works as a perfect commentary on this American decade.”—Jason Diamond, Vol.1 Brooklyn

“The power of this thing sneaks up on you…While Alan cools his heels, he bonds with memorably drawn locals; has some adventures that illuminate the tragicomedy that is globalism; and gets us meditating on what appears to be the theme…: How can we all get over ourselves long enough to really, truly notice other people?” — Jeff Giles, Entertainment Weekly

“Eerie, suspenseful and tightly controlled… Exciting stuff.”—Cynthia Macdonald, The Globe and Mail

“Alan feels like Eggers’s most fully-realized character to date … A sad and beautiful story.”—John Freeman, The Boston Globe

“[A] supremely readable parable of America in the global economy that is haunting, beautifully shaped and sad ... With ferocious energy and versatility, [Eggers] has been studying how the world is remaking America ... Eggers has developed an exceptional gift for opening up the lives of others so as to offer the story of globalism as it develops and, simultaneously, to unfold a much more archetypal tale of struggle and loneliness and drift.”—Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review

"Hits you with prose as stark and luminous as its Saudi Arabian setting…It should confirm Eggers's position among America's leading contemporary writers."—Independent

“Mr. Eggers uses a new, pared down, Hemingwayesque voice to recount his story... he demonstrates in Hologram that he is master of this more old-fashioned approach as much as he was a pioneering innovator with A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius....[This] sad-funny-dreamlike story unfolds to become an allegory about the frustrations of middle-class America, about the woes unemployed workers and sidelined entrepreneurs have experienced in a newly globalized world in which jobs are being outsourced abroad.... A comic but deeply affecting tale about one man’s travails that also provides a bright, digital snapshot of our times.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A spare but moving elegy for the American century.”—Publishers Weekly

"Eggers can do fiction as well as he likes.”—Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times

“A potent, well-drawn portrait of one man’s discovery of where his personal and professional selves split and connect.”—Kirkus Reviews

“An extraordinary work of timely and provocative themes...This novel reminds us that above all, Eggers is a writer of books, and a writer of the highest order….An outstanding achievement in Eggers's already impressive career, and an essential read.”—Carmela Ciuraru, The San Francisco Chronicle

“Eggers understands the pressures of American downward-mobility, and in the protagonist of his novel, Alan Clay, has created an Everyman, a post-modern Willy Loman….The novel operates on a grand and global scale, but it also is intimate.”—Elizabeth Taylor, The Chicago Tribune

“Fascinating...Although Godot may be Hologram's philosophical source, Eggers is no Beckettian minimalist. The novel is paradoxically suspenseful, but it's also rich in character and in Eggers's evocative writing about place…A Hologram for the King, as far from home as it might seem, is an acute slice of American life.”—Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

"Dave Eggers is a prince among men when it comes to writing deeply felt, socially conscious books that meld reportage with fiction. While A Hologram for the King is fiction...it’s a strike against the current state of global economic injustice."
—Elissa Schappell,Vanity Fair

“Completely engrossing.”
—Daniel Roberts, Fortune

“A heartbreaking character study.”—Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness

“Deft and darkly comic…Beautifully enlivened by oddball encounters and oddball characters, by stranger-in-a-strange-land episodes.”—Steven Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Eggers’ spare prose is a pleasure, and A Hologram for the King proves to be a deft blend of surreal adventure, absurd comedy and pointed observations.”—Georgia Rowe, San Jose Mercury News

“As the kingless days pass, Alan ventures from the tent and hotel into the rich, unsettling realities of the Kingdom, and Eggers ventures deeper into Alan, as well as into the question that has seemingly guided Eggers’ work for years: What does it mean to be an American in a world that has places like the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, or post-Katrina New Orleans?”—Alan Scherstuhl, San Francisco Weekly

“[Hologram] has at its center a sort of moral vision quest... Alan’s plight is endearing in its universality, even while being singularly his.”—Jonathan Messinger, Time Out Chicago

"Eggers has given us a work of fiction that works as a perfect commentary on this American decade.”—Jason Diamond, Vol.1 Brooklyn

“The power of this thing sneaks up on you…While Alan cools his heels, he bonds with memorably drawn locals; has some adventures that illuminate the tragicomedy that is globalism; and gets us meditating on what appears to be the theme…: How can we all get over ourselves long enough to really, truly notice other people?” — Jeff Giles, Entertainment Weekly

“Eerie, suspenseful and tightly controlled… Exciting stuff.”—Cynthia Macdonald, The Globe and Mail

“Alan feels like Eggers’s most fully-realized character to date … A sad and beautiful story.”—John Freeman, The Boston Globe

“[A] supremely readable parable of America in the global economy that is haunting, beautifully shaped and sad ... With ferocious energy and versatility, [Eggers] has been studying how the world is remaking America ... Eggers has developed an exceptional gift for opening up the lives of others so as to offer the story of globalism as it develops and, simultaneously, to unfold a much more archetypal tale of struggle and loneliness and drift.”—Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review

"Hits you with prose as stark and luminous as its Saudi Arabian setting…It should confirm Eggers's position among America's leading contemporary writers."—Independent

Kirkus Reviews
A middle-aged man scrapes for his identity in a Saudi Arabian city of the future. This book by McSweeney's founder Eggers (Zeitoun, 2009, etc.) inverts the premise of his fiction debut, 2002's You Shall Know Our Velocity. That novel was a globe-trotting tale about giving away money; this one features a hero stuck in one place and desperate to make a bundle. Alan Clay is a 50-something American salesperson for an information technology company angling for a contract to wire King Abdullah Economic City, a Saudi commerce hub. Alan and his team are initially anxious to deliver their presentation to the king--which features a remote speaker appearing via hologram--but they soon learn the country moves at a snail-like pace. So Alan drifts: He wanders the moonscape of the sparely constructed city, obsesses over a cyst on his back, bonds with his troubled driver, pursues fumbling relationships with two women, ponders his debts and recalls his shortcomings as a salesman, husband and father. This book is in part a commentary on America's eroding economic might (there are numerous asides about offshoring and cheap labor), but it's mostly a potent, well-drawn portrait of one man's discovery of where his personal and professional selves split and connect. Eggers has matured greatly as a novelist since Velocity: Where that novel was gassy and knotted, this one has crisp sentences and a solid structure. He masters the hurry-up-and-wait rhythm of Alan's visit, accelerating the prose when the King's arrival seems imminent, then slackening it again. If anything, the novel's flaws seem to be products of too much tightening: An incident involving a death back home feels clipped and some passages are reduced to fable-like simplicity. Even so, Eggers' fiction has evolved in the past decade. This book is firm proof that that social concerns can make for resonant storytelling.
The New York Times Book Review
…a clear, supremely readable parable of America in the global economy that is haunting, beautifully shaped and sad…Eggers's inhabiting of the terms and tics of a distinctly American consciousness is as remarkable as, in earlier books, his channeling of Sudanese and Syrian sensibilities…A Hologram for the King is, among other things, an anguished investigation into how and where American self-confidence got lost and—in the central word another lonely expat uses for Alan—"defeated."
—Pico Iyer
The Washington Post
A diverting, well-written novel about a middle-aged American dreamer, joined to a critique of how the American dream has been subverted by outsourcing our know-how and manufacturing to third-world nations.
—Michael Dirda
The New York Times
In Mr. Eggers's telling, the 54-year-old Alan is not just another hapless loser undergoing a midlife crisis. Rather, his sad-funny-dreamlike story unfolds to become an allegory about the frustrations of middle-class America, about the woes unemployed workers and sidelined entrepreneurs have experienced in a newly globalized world…Thanks to Mr. Eggers's uncommon ability to access his characters' emotions and channel their every mood, we are instantly immersed in Alan's story…a comic but deeply affecting tale about one man's travails that also provides a bright, digital snapshot of our times.
—Michiko Kakutani

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781936365746
Publisher:
McSweeney's Publishing
Publication date:
06/19/2012
Pages:
328
Sales rank:
415,321
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Mr. Eggers uses a new, pared down, Hemingwayesque voice to recount his story... he demonstrates in Hologram that he is master of this more old-fashioned approach as much as he was a pioneering innovator with A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius....[This] sad-funny-dreamlike story unfolds to become an allegory about the frustrations of middle-class America, about the woes unemployed workers and sidelined entrepreneurs have experienced in a newly globalized world in which jobs are being outsourced abroad.... A comic but deeply affecting tale about one man’s travails that also provides a bright, digital snapshot of our times.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A spare but moving elegy for the American century.”—Publishers Weekly

"Eggers can do fiction as well as he likes.”—Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times

“A potent, well-drawn portrait of one man’s discovery of where his personal and professional selves split and connect.”—Kirkus Reviews

“An extraordinary work of timely and provocative themes...This novel reminds us that above all, Eggers is a writer of books, and a writer of the highest order….An outstanding achievement in Eggers's already impressive career, and an essential read.”—Carmela Ciuraru, The San Francisco Chronicle

“Eggers understands the pressures of American downward-mobility, and in the protagonist of his novel, Alan Clay, has created an Everyman, a post-modern Willy Loman….The novel operates on a grand and global scale, but it also is intimate.”—Elizabeth Taylor, The Chicago Tribune

“Fascinating...Although Godot may be Hologram's philosophical source, Eggers is no Beckettian minimalist. The novel is paradoxically suspenseful, but it's also rich in character and in Eggers's evocative writing about place…A Hologram for the King, as far from home as it might seem, is an acute slice of American life.”—Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

"Dave Eggers is a prince among men when it comes to writing deeply felt, socially conscious books that meld reportage with fiction. While A Hologram for the King is fiction...it’s a strike against the current state of global economic injustice."
—Elissa Schappell,Vanity Fair

“Completely engrossing.”
—Daniel Roberts, Fortune

“A heartbreaking character study.”—Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness

“Deft and darkly comic…Beautifully enlivened by oddball encounters and oddball characters, by stranger-in-a-strange-land episodes.”—Steven Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Eggers’ spare prose is a pleasure, and A Hologram for the King proves to be a deft blend of surreal adventure, absurd comedy and pointed observations.”—Georgia Rowe, San Jose Mercury News

“As the kingless days pass, Alan ventures from the tent and hotel into the rich, unsettling realities of the Kingdom, and Eggers ventures deeper into Alan, as well as into the question that has seemingly guided Eggers’ work for years: What does it mean to be an American in a world that has places like the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, or post-Katrina New Orleans?”—Alan Scherstuhl, San Francisco Weekly

“[Hologram] has at its center a sort of moral vision quest... Alan’s plight is endearing in its universality, even while being singularly his.”—Jonathan Messinger, Time Out Chicago

"Eggers has given us a work of fiction that works as a perfect commentary on this American decade.”—Jason Diamond, Vol.1 Brooklyn

“The power of this thing sneaks up on you…While Alan cools his heels, he bonds with memorably drawn locals; has some adventures that illuminate the tragicomedy that is globalism; and gets us meditating on what appears to be the theme…: How can we all get over ourselves long enough to really, truly notice other people?” — Jeff Giles, Entertainment Weekly

“Eerie, suspenseful and tightly controlled… Exciting stuff.”—Cynthia Macdonald, The Globe and Mail

“Alan feels like Eggers’s most fully-realized character to date … A sad and beautiful story.”—John Freeman, The Boston Globe

“[A] supremely readable parable of America in the global economy that is haunting, beautifully shaped and sad ... With ferocious energy and versatility, [Eggers] has been studying how the world is remaking America ... Eggers has developed an exceptional gift for opening up the lives of others so as to offer the story of globalism as it develops and, simultaneously, to unfold a much more archetypal tale of struggle and loneliness and drift.”—Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review

Meet the Author


Dave Eggers is the bestselling author of seven books including A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award; Zeitoun, winner of the American Book Award and Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and What Is the What, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won France’s Prix Medici. In 2002, with Ninive Calegari he cofounded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities around the country have since opened sister 826 centers. Eggers lives in Northern California with his wife and two children.

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A Hologram for the King 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having spent time just down the road from KAEC on my own surreal Saudi business experience, I frequently burst out laughing while reading this book. Yes, it is really like that in Saudi Arabia. A country of surprising people and crazy funny contradictions. Alan Clay's story adds a hefty sadness to the humor as real relationships develop. Dave Eggers is brilliant.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Literarily, this is what you get when you cross *Waiting for Godot* with *Death of a Salesman.* It's a powerful & very discomfiting look at America's present, written for people with short attention spans. I'd recommend it in a heartbeat, but Dave Eggers has done better. And will do better. -- catwak
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Holgram" succeeds on three levels. A brilliant and rollicking portrayel of schizophrenic Saudi society (this reviewer spent the better part of a decade in Jeddah and Riyadh); a passionate lament for the demise of productive America; and a searing depiction of the human condition ("attention must be paid").
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A nice read and a good bit of satire but leaves much to be desired.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What was this story about? A rambling, disconnected presentation of a character with a rambling, disconnected life. At the end, the reader is left asking whaaat?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, but the tone of defeat for the main character through nearly the whole book, Alan's detours, the long shadows of his ex wife & daughter we never meet, and the ephemeral quality of many of the characters make it a little hard to get through.
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Turlepin More than 1 year ago
Eggers does a brilliant job of parsing out the dizzying frustrations Westerners have in the region when expecting rationality, cause and effect, planning or any consideration of people's time. I found Alan's plight very fairly characterized and could easily relate to it. The romantic entanglement felt very manufactured though, and highly unlikely -- at least as it was portrayed in the novel. On the whole, the novel is definitely worth reading -- and is a useful primer for anybody considering work in the region.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" when it came out and was enthralled with it. The writing style, the emotions he brought out, all of it. So, I was expecting and hoping to enjoy this book just as much - didn't happen. I'm sure its a mark of talent that an author can write two books in such completely different voices - and just unfortunate I guess, that I didn't care for this voice at all. This was the kind of book you make yourself continue to read because knowing the author, you feel certain it will be worthwhile. I held on to that hope right up to the last chapter when I knew finally that my hopes were in vain! Too, too dry, not an interesting enough story to hold interest. Seems as if the author was trying too hard to be"subtle" and self-important. Just did not come across for me...but the same thing happened with Jeffrey Eugenides' book "The Marriage Plot" which I purchased (& made myself painfully finish), strictly on the strengh of the fact that "Middlesex" is one of my all time favorite books, as is "A Heartbreaking Work...".
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juliusa More than 1 year ago
I had high hopes for this book, and felt very few of those hopes were met. The idea is right for the times, the execution though was sloppy, hurried, and rang false. I guess someone who is not really going through the problems others are facing can truly identify, and Mr. Eggers ma yhave been out of his element here. It came off as stereotyped, phony, and hurried. Too many issues lumped together, and not real in any case. The main characer Alan was not even someone I could admire. Having been through what he experienced after 9/11, his reactions and motives were off. The one star is for effort, but in this case someone should have told Mr. Eggers to move on to another topic he knows better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just plain poor. Plot is very childish and just keeps just worst as you read. Not sure what the point was but must have some great political message because the NYT loves it.
L.A.Carlson-writer More than 1 year ago
While the book presentation is handsome and original; I had a difficult time getting past the writing style. Conversations are marked with dashes which I found distracting. The narrative is solid and at times compelling. I didn't care about the main character Alan because I'm not given much of a reason to care. He's an IT businessman hoping for a very substantial deal with a Saudi King to help him get out of debt. Needed more depth earlier to hold my interest.