Editors’ Blog

Dave Eggers and Valentino Achak Deng Return to Sudan

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

By Chris Teja

Anyone who read What Is the What, Dave Eggers’s 2006 novel based on the true story of a young Sudanese refugee separated from his family, needs no introduction to the name Valentino Achak Deng. With Eggers channeling Valentino’s own unforgettable voice as narrator, What Is the What tells the story of Valentino fleeing his village as a young boy, encountering numerous life-threatening obstacles, and eventually making his way to refugee camps in Ethiopia and later Kenya before landing in the United States and finally reuniting with his family. In a review in the New York Times, Francine Prose compared the book to Huckleberry Finn and wrote: “The lyricism, the detail and, most important, the absolute specificity of these sentences are what make What Is the What so persuasive.”

Today, Valentino and Dave work together running the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation. Among their other projects, the foundation is currently working to build the first secondary school in Valentino’s region of Southern Sudan. Eggers and Achak Deng filmed a series of videos during their September 2008 trip to Southern Sudan.


  The Story of the Foundation 

 Valentino’s Tour of the Future School 

See more videos of Valentino and Dave’s trip on the foundation’s YouTube Channel.  

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3 responses

  1. maggie says:

    That’s an amazing book, like everything Eggers does. And Valentino himself is ‘amazing’ …to survive all he has and still have a heart, a loving heart…

  2. Liza roze says:

    What is the What is a novel composed by Dave Eggers and drawn from the genuine story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. The title originates from a neighborhood tale about the compensation of picking what’s known over what’s obscure. As they escape the pulverization around them,

    Wikipedia Page Creator

  3. willowkatherine says:

    I would add that if you definitely need to be able to get at some of your money quickly, you might want to consider having two bank accounts, as if a bank fails the at rva-ltd.co.uk/ would take time to pay out.

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