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A Hologram for the King

3.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  19,100 Ratings  ·  2,443 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by McSweeney's
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Kim G
Jul 30, 2012 Kim G rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
BLAH. I'm going to need the publishing industry to start putting on warning labels for Modern American Middle-Aged Upper-Middle-Class White Male Pathetic Protagonists, because I am all done with them. No more crazy bitch ex-wives, no more weird medical issues that strike at their sense of mortality, no more managing to bang (poorly) hotter younger ladies (who are also, of course, crazy) even during their downward spiral, no more disconnect with their flighty and disappointed children, no more ra ...more
Oct 12, 2012 Lee rated it really liked it
A perfectly enjoyable, effortlessly proceeding, airily formatted, short novel. It's not really 312 pages, more like 250 with lots of extraneous white space between frequently occurring sections. A tone so accessible it almost seemed like a YA version of some classic salesmanzy novel teleported to 2010 Saudi Arabia. Loved the inclusion of nonfictional bits like about Schwinn's fall and the blast-resistant glass for the Freedom Tower made in China. Loved the snorkeling frolic and didn't really min ...more
Jun 19, 2012 Megan rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is what I imagine Dave Eggers’ thought process was like in composing Hologram:

“I want to write another novel. Haven’t done that in a little while.

But I want it to be socially relevant, a commentary like Zeitoun.

But it would be so obvious if my protagonist were another clear victim of global catastrophe, like Zeitoun or What is the What.

I know! I’ll make him seem like one of globalization’s possible bad guys – an American businessman who’s helped bring the catastrophe on himself! Except he s
May 05, 2016 Elyse rated it really liked it
Update: This is an old review ... almost 4 years old. If you haven't read this book ... ( it's a quick read...enjoyable)..,You might consider it ... before seeing the movie which is being released in weeks ahead.

Tom Hanks.. (we went to the same High School), is playing the lead in this film - adapted from Dave Eggers book!

Dave Eggers seems to have an excellent understanding of the many problems we face in today's world. Yet, instead of forcing facts down our throats -- he creates a story-line
Oct 10, 2012 Dan rated it liked it
UPDATE 10/10/12: NBA finalist?! Give me a break.

-Hey, Dave Eggers has a new book out and it looks wonderful.

-What's it about?

-Who cares, it's a lovely book to hold.

And that's probably the most exceptional thing about the novel. McSweeney's has continued to impress me with the effort and care that they put into the packaging and physicalness of their books. Maybe the publishing industry should take note of what they're doing and start copying it.

Now for the story: A mid-fifties business
Charlie Quimby
Sep 14, 2012 Charlie Quimby rated it really liked it
Back in the early '70s a co-worker of mine shipped off to Saudi Arabia to take a job as a construction project manager for the giant company building King Khalid Military City. John was supporting three ex-wives, and he decided making triple his U.S. salary, with no way to spend it and living beyond reach of the telephone, was preferable to his current state.

A year or so later, he returned for a visit and dropped by the office. He showed us pictures of his home in a remote part of the Saudi des
Gary  the Bookworm
Sep 20, 2012 Gary the Bookworm rated it it was ok
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I really disliked this. I preordered it from Amazon last July after reading glowing reviews in newspapers and magazines. Other "goodreaders" commented that it was another self-indulgent exercise in navel-gazing by an angry white American male, but I dismissed them as too harsh-until I read it. Now I'm in that camp, too. I really admired another novel in this vein called Dear American Airlines, but this one never lived up to the hype. I found the plot to be sketchy and the characters underdevel
MJ Nicholls
May 27, 2014 MJ Nicholls rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, merkins
Conscientious moralist and all-round Good Egg(er) Dave Eggers in another era might be literary kryptonite. In these times, writers like Eggers who are devoted to giving voice to the voiceless need to be respected in spite of the contemptuous hauteur of educated neurotics like me who delight in turning our schnozes heavenward at this sort of thing. Even in the event of prose streamlined to within an inch of its life that wears its Beckett homage like a proud badge stating I’M DOING A WAITING FOR ...more
Aug 12, 2012 Eric rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, recent-reads
A brilliant snapshot of the times. Lean, but powerful, and at times beautiful, Eggers does what he does best -- captures the anxiety, humanity, and confusion of living in a world where the lines of country and culture are slowly eroding.

I felt it was perfect that Eggers used a Beckett quote at the beginning of the book. The book is bleak and tragicomic, like much of Beckett's work, yet very much focused on the human condition. Eggers brilliantly illustrates the absurdity and surreal nature of l
switterbug (Betsey)
Jun 26, 2012 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was amazing
It is 2010, and Alan Clay is waiting. Not for Godot, but for King Abdullah, in the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), which is a developing Red Sea port in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He is a 54-year-old failed American businessman in serious debt, evading his creditors and anguishing over how he will pay for his daughter's next year in college. He also has an angry ex-wife and a worrying lump on his neck. This is his last hurrah, a chance to turn his life from sad and broke to flush and secure, if h ...more
May 30, 2013 Hadrian rated it it was ok
Shelves: american, fiction
Well, the hardcover edition has a pretty cover. The plot also looks interesting in summary as well.

The rest is just a disappointment. Eggers' style, a vast improvement over AHWOSG and used to great effect in Zeitoun, seems oddly flat here. The setting is a flat caricature of Saudi Arabia, with a deformed businessman somehow seducing two women over there, (one Danish, one Saudi), earning a large commission while simultaneously moping about the end of the American Dream and the Yellow Menace of th
Dave Harrison
Jun 01, 2012 Dave Harrison rated it really liked it
I read this book professionally but, as part of the Eggers faithful, I was looking forward to it on a personal level ever since I first heard rumours of it existing. It proved itself worthy pretty damned quick.

The plot is a simple one - an American man travels to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in order to sell holographic technology to the King. What the book is really about is the state of the U.S. following the recession, with a hypothesis on how it got to where it is today, and how it is affecti
May 11, 2016 Cheri rated it really liked it

In the late ‘60’s my father, who was a pilot, was approached about taking over the Saudi Arabia route, with a not inconsiderable jump in salary, plus other bonuses, paying our mortgage for the period of time we were gone, paying for whatever place we lived in there, or where my parents would have lived. My brothers and I would have been sent to various places for school, for me it would have been Switzerland, a boarding school. My father proceeded to “remind” us of the differences in the “custom
Erica David
Sep 28, 2012 Erica David rated it it was ok
It's two and a half stars, really. Almost three. Goodreads needs a rating for "Meh" because that's pretty much my reaction to it. Is it well written? Yes. Is it topical and relevant to our particular historical moment, this tale of a former manufacturing executive in existential crisis who finds himself in Saudi Arabia hoping to win an IT contract for the newly founded and still unfinished King Abdullah Economic City? Yes. Is it our mistaken belief as Americans who once made good product but hav ...more
Nancy Sirvent
Nov 02, 2012 Nancy Sirvent rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2012
I was off to a very enjoyable start with this book. However, I became utterly distracted by some very obvious things that were not caught by a copy editor (I suspect that there was no editor). It was mostly inconsistencies.

On one page a character is having a phone conversation with his ex-wife and then several pages later he tells us that he hasn't spoken with her by phone for two years.

The character arrives at a location at noon. He has a couple of meetings, watches a film, gets a tour, and me
Tom Tabasco
I was lured by the cover and the title. I was hoping for a quick, fun, brilliant story that would give me some insight into Saudi Arabia and international business Big mistake. I found a French movie from the '70s instead. Seriously: a French Movie from the '70s, one of those where nothing happens, and actors are trying to convey despair in thousand of different ways, but all they can express is boredom.

But hey! If you have a sudden craving for a story about a weak, self-pitying, sad, aimless l
Betsy McTiernan
Apr 14, 2013 Betsy McTiernan rated it really liked it
I like Dave Eggers' new novel, Hologram For a King, mostly because it profiles a loser in the amazing race of advanced capitalism. Alan, individualist and good capitalist, finds himself at middle-age being pushed aside. He makes career changes to profit from the rapid global economic shifts--from saleman, to corporate manager to downsizer. But it hasn't worked for him. When the novel opens he's on the edge of economic collapse, but still dreaming of catching the brass ring. He's hired as a consu ...more
Paul Gleason
Sep 12, 2012 Paul Gleason rated it it was ok
A Hologram for the King proves that Eggers' forte is non-fiction (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and Zeitoun) - or, at least, fiction based on non-fictional events (What Is the What). Unfortunately, whenever Eggers tries to concoct a compelling novel, he falls flat. See Hologram, as well as You Shall Know Our Velocity!

Eggers' heart and soul are as big as they come. It's seems obvious to me that the early deaths of his parents affected him deeply and have determined the course of his w
Aug 09, 2012 Dee rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Never judge a book by its cover. That's what I did with this book and I was very sorry I did. The cover is made to look like a hand-carved wooden cover on a book you might find in a Middle Eastern bazaar. I was also intrigued because the author wrote Zetouin, which is a non-fiction story about a muslim man who was falsely imprisoned after Katrina. The cover caught me, the slim New Orleans connection reeled me in.

I should have known when the description said that the story was elegiac. Boy, was i
Nov 22, 2012 Zorro rated it really liked it

""This may all sound a little too much like metaphor — or romanticism — but Eggers’s sense of loss is hard-earned and his feeling for his characters as affectingly real as his epigraph from Beckett (“It is not every day that we are needed”). At times, his book reminds one of Douglas Coupland’s deeply wistful tales of Generation X’s search for belief and direction, at other times of the weightless suburban drifters of Haruki Murakami’s world, all but longin
Barbara A
Jul 07, 2012 Barbara A rated it liked it
First things first: I love Dave Eggers's work and admire all that he has done as a writer, publisher, public intellectual, social commentator, brother, savior, and believer in the the power of books.

I also loved the physical book itself. Holding the beautifully textured linen cover of 'Hologram' was great. Incised and dusted with gold, its feel was a tactile pleasure not often found in today's reading universe, and it was a marvelously apt visual image for the story within.

Ah, but the story wit
Andrew Hicks
Jan 19, 2015 Andrew Hicks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought a pristine trade paperback copy of A Hologram For the King for 50 cents at the library, based on the strength of the blurbs and review quotes on the back of the book. In six centuries, the Mona Lisa hasn't gotten as much praise as Hologram received in 2012. This is one of those praise roll-calls that starts on the back cover and moves to the first eight pages of the inside cover. And I had two quarters burning a hole in my pocket, so I was sold.

And, yeah, overall it was an accessibl
Feb 22, 2013 Chrissie rated it liked it
Really great read but then the end of the book and the fate of the lead character, Alan Clay, were horrible.

I think it's the type of book that seems like it's leading somewhere fascinating and then it has a cynical and harsh doomed-limbo ending. I'm not sure it's the type of book you want to read unless you're the type of person who has absolutely no faith in humanity. Or you simply hate businessmen, which I do - but even as such, the book is not much more than the statement "I hate businesspe
Well, this is a moody little book that will make you want to walk around a park for a while and think about until the oil falls out of the gears in your brain. I read the screenplay to the movie he wrote and was so offended by the stage directions, I broke up with him forever in my mind. I mean I loved that movie so much I wanted to run up and down things and destroy stuff, and to read the stage directions, I was like "oh, what I didn't realize is that Dave hates me, thinks I'm some kind of a ru ...more
Mal Warwick
Oct 26, 2012 Mal Warwick rated it liked it
Dave Eggers Goes to Saudi Arabia and Finds a Desert

Dave Eggers is a phenomenon. Author of 17 books and two screenplays, including fiction, nonfiction, and a memoir, several of them best-sellers; founder of McSweeney’s publishing company; and co-founder of the celebrated literacy project 826 Valencia, the man is only 42 at this writing. I’m envious and a little in awe. (Well, maybe a lot in awe.)

In A Hologram for the King, Eggers inserts himself into the psyche of Alan Clay, a latter-day Willy Lo
Dec 09, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it
A hint of Dave Egger’s ambitious theme can be gleaned right from the title. A hologram is a three-dimensional photographic image that appears to have depth; in reality, it is only an illusion.

Alan Clay – his very name suggests an unformed man – is illusionary in many ways himself. A quintessential American salesman, with wisps of Willy Loman, Alan has “sold actual objects to actual people”, at Fuller Brush and later at Schwinn. When we meet up with him, he is deeply in debt, a divorced middle-ag
The epigraph for this book is from Beckett: “It is not every day that we are needed”…and so I should realize that a novel about a middle aged man in mid-life crisis mode waiting around for a king to show up would essentially be a modern version of Waiting for Godot.

That said, Waiting for Godot is my least favorite stage production OF ALL TIME (despite having seen it starring Ben Kingsley in London); I am not a patient person and as much as I can intellectually appreciate the concept of making th
Mark Stevens
Mar 02, 2014 Mark Stevens rated it it was amazing
I now feel compelled to go back through all of Eggers’ work—that’s how much I enjoyed "A Hologram for the King," even though the story is somewhat spare and the action slow. But the mind of Alan Clay, our hero, is a busy place and it’s through Alan Clay, stuck in Saudi Arabia trying to cut a deal to sell a holographic teleconferencing system, that "Hologram" takes place.

The sales meetings never come together. There is waiting, missed connections, dashed hopes. Alan Clay struggles to be patient.
Scott Rhee
Aug 06, 2015 Scott Rhee rated it really liked it
Dave Eggers's new novel "A Hologram for the King" is a beautiful, funny, and depressing look at the human condition in the 21st century. More specifically, it is an examination of the effects that globalization has had upon the everyday lives of Americans, and the destructive price we have paid for our so-called technological and financial "progress".

The protagonist, Alan Clay, is a defeated man. He is secretly so broke--- due to bad investments, the failure of the economy, and basic American e
Annabel Smith
Aug 06, 2013 Annabel Smith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-rated, usa, 2012
Godamn Dave Eggers and his insane talent. He has totally nailed it with this book. I read it in one sitting, til 2am, and I am giving it the big FIVE.
In my library, they sort books by genre, but there are some books where the genre is not immediately apparent and these they lump into odd categories like ‘relationships’, or the not-at-all helpful ‘allsorts’. A Hologram for the King was in the relationships section, and it is about relationships, but it is about so much more than that. It unfolds
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The Equity Book G...: A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers 1 29 Jul 23, 2012 12:47PM  
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Dave Eggers is the author of ten books, including most recently Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, The Circle and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney’s Quarterly ...more
More about Dave Eggers...

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“It all meant something. Until it didn't.” 31 likes
“Live long enough and you'll disappoint everyone. People think you're able to help them and usually you can't. And so it becomes a process of choosing the one or two people you try hardest not to disappoint. The person in my life I am determined not to disappoint is you.” 28 likes
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