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A Hologram for the King

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  16,765 ratings  ·  2,263 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 (first published January 1st 2012)
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Kim G
Jul 30, 2012 Kim G rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
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
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
switterbug (Betsey)
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
Dave Harrison
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
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
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
Erica David
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
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
Nancy Sirvent
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
Betsy McTiernan
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
Aug 09, 2012 Dee rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
Paul Gleason
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
Barbara A
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
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

""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
Andrew Hicks
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
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
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
Mark Stevens
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.
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
Melynda Nuss
I wanted so badly to like this book. The cover is beautiful; Eggers' reputation is first-rate. And to top it off, I wanted to hear what an young idealistic publisher, a pioneer in a changing industry, had to say about the sale of dreams in the global marketplace. I shouldn't have bothered. Although the book is a good read, its ideas are pretty simplistic. It seems that we no longer make things in America. In the good old days, we used to manufacture things like bikes -- beautiful, shiny bikes ma ...more
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In my book, Dave Eggers is one of the foremost writers of fiction based on nonfiction. Zeitoun and What is the What were two of the most moving, most honest character portrayals I have ever read in my life. Eggers really gets into their psyches and the world around them, so that you feel as though you are becoming Zeitoun or Valentino Achak Deng. He crawls into their brainspaces and brings them to life, so that by the end of the book, you feel as though you have spent the last few days with a ma ...more
A New York Times best book of 2012? Really? I mean, it's OK but ...

At times like these, I tend to see the world as a giant version of high school, with more money. In this case, I see this as the grown-up version of the kids who ran the high school literary magazine praising each other, sincerely but, well, wrongly. It's just not that good.

Still, I enjoyed it. (view spoiler)A Hologram Fo
I wanted to like this book but in the end I was just reading it to finish it, not because I wanted to find out how it ended. The main character, Alan Clay, is unlikeable in an uninteresting way and the things he does don't make any sense for him, Alan felt like he was a character, being written by someone else who was younger, did not have his background and was not in the same phase of life. I only found one of the supporting characters even remotely interesting, and the flashbacks and side tri ...more
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The Equity Book G...: A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers 1 26 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...
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius What is the What Zeitoun The Circle You Shall Know Our Velocity!

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“It all meant something. Until it didn't.” 27 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.” 26 likes
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