I heard about this book--"What is the What" by Dave Eggers"-- well over a year ago, and I finally decided to give it a read. I should also mention that I was unable to finish the last 129 pages of it. Sadly, it could no longer keep me interested. The story is essentially a loose fictionalization of the real life of Valentino Achack Deng, a Sudanese Lost Boy. It's told from the point of flashbacks, all while he is being robbed by two assholes with a gun. The events that transpire throughout are absolutely horrid, and can easily make one sick to his or her stomach. I cannot even imagine living a life such as the one that Valentino had no choice but to endure.
He's poor and doesn't have much to look forward to in life. Then he loses his parents and siblings, and his friends to pointless civil war. The Sudanese government is run by Muslims trying to eradicate all that is unholy, and the SPLA is trying to fight back in their own way of rebelliousness. One thing is for sure: no one wins. Valentino treks across southern Sudan with thousands of refugees just trying to live and find safety. Several perish along the way, and the language with which it is described it clear and to-the-point. Malaria, lions, dehydration, exhaustion, soldiers--any of those contributed to the death of countless of innocent people. Their exodus from their home country led them to Ethiopia, which only resulted in a temporary reprieve before being chased out at gunpoint with even more innocent men, women, and children being murdered in cold blood. From there, they made their way to Kenya, where refugee camps were setup for thousands of displaced people. I stopped reading around this point.
It was a rather remarkable story, almost too much so. I am both sad and overjoyed to know that I will never know a life such as the one laid on these pages. I'll never have to see a friend eaten by a lion, or my family gunned down near a river. It sickens me to know that these atrocities have happened, are happening, and will continue to happen until mankind finally puts an end to itself. It's an important story, and I recommend reading it.