I really felt like the first book I chose for the empathy bookclub needed to encapsulate so many of my hopes and desires and all of my frustrations. And then I pivoted completely and picked a book I’m not sure I even liked. But this is the empathy bookclub, and Donald Trump’s message resonated with a lot of frustrated blue collar workers who watched their jobs disappear, much how Alan Clay’s character in The Hologram for the King becomes frustrated watching his job transition and morph into something unrecognizable. A character frustrated with the global marketplace. A character frustrated with his inability to make anything.
So first up in the empathy bookclub is The Hologram for the King written by Dave Eggers, published in 2012 from McSweeney’s and also available from Vintage Books in paperback.
“Eggers seems ready to take America by the scruff of its neck and ask us what we’re going to do about injustice and a sense of community; but where some writers celebrate America as a home for second lives and triumphant reinvention, Eggers seems bracingly wary of happy endings, as if convinced that our real work is still ahead of us.”
– from a review in the NY Times Sunday Book Review by Pico Iyer which is as much about Eggers than The Hologram for the King.
You can purchase this book from your local independent bookstore, you can borrow it from your local public library. And if you’re into book packages showing up at your door there’s always Amazon and my favorite, Powell’s.
In 2016, The Hologram for the King was released as a movie featuring Tom Hanks. My challenge for you is to read the book, but you totally have my permission to see the movie instead. I just might do both.
Once you’ve read The Hologram from the King, check out this interview with Dave Eggers from The New Yorker .
You tell me how dark the humor is when Alan Clay can’t even build a wall in his own yard.