Review: A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
It is not unheard of in the present day global economy for American businessmen to travel all over the world. In Dave Eggers’ A Hologram for the King, the businessman is Alan Clay and the destination is Saudi Arabia.
Clay is a 54-year-old businessman who is looking for a big payday in the lucrative technology field. He is divorced, almost broke, depressed and needy. He and three associates meet daily in a large white tent in the Saudi Arabian sun with intermittent air-conditioning and no Wi-fi. Their state of the art presentation for King Adullah featuring holograms is at the heart of the story, but the King is very elusive. Therefore, out of boredom they play on their computers and nap in the heat. Alan, on the other hand, wanders about what is supposed to become King Abdullah Economic City and gets into difficult and often dangerous situations.
While in his hotel room he frets about the past, especially the loss of the industries that sustained him in his earlier years. Unfortunately, these industries had since relocated to other parts of the world. He writes letters to his daughter in college which he never sends. He doesn’t know how to tell her there’s no money for next semester’s tuition.
Although I initially rooted for Alan in his quest for success, it became clear to me that he was not a sympathetic character. It was not just that he was over his head in this big deal, but that he sabotaged himself with ridiculous behaviors and even descended into self-mutilation while under the influence.
A Hologram for the King is a novel for our time. Anyone interested in business and how the world’s economy turns will enjoy it most. The author certainly sells it in a more readable fashion than the previous A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which baffled me.
Also, for those who still enjoy holding a book, the cover is outstanding.
I give the book 3 ½ Arabian Nights.
Happy reading from Beverly!