What Is the What

What is the What

The thrilling, heart-wrenching account of the life and experiences of Achak Nyibek Arou Deng, a refuge of the Sudanese war, is played out by author Dave Eggers. Deng is an innocent youth tossed into the turbulence of the war that invades the village of Marial Bai. As a child, Deng remembers a pleasant childhood filled with memories of his loving family. His father was a prosperous shop owner. “Eventually, he lived for ten years in the Kakuma refugee camp inside Kenya. It was from there that he and other "unaccompanied children," mostly boys but with a few girls, were brought to the United States in 2001.” (Murphey, 2007) The war has resulted in many deaths and the exodus of many young men from the Sudan to Ethiopia. Deng’s life is a seemly endless scroll of loss.   Many of the boys who escaped with him are murdered or die of disease or hunger.
In Ethiopia, Deng is appointed leader over the camp because he shows leadership ability and hard work. The most amazing theme of his life is that he is determined to survive even in the face of the worse situations. Deng’s courage is unstoppable. Amazingly, his will to survive is not fueled by anything material or superficial. He is determined to exercise his will to survive.
          Deng has no desire personally to assimilate into the United States and "become an American”. His intent is to return someday to his Dinka village. He expresses little gratitude toward the United States for the enormous assistance it has given him and little appreciation for its advanced civilization. These are subjects he almost never touches on, although there is one half-appreciative effusion when he says, "This is a miserable place, of course, a miserable and glorious place that I love dearly...." Most of the story is recounted as memories brought to mind during brutal or uncaring treatment he has received from Afro-Americans in the United States. (He lay tied up for several hours during and after an "apartment...