A Hologram for the King

7 September 2012 Books

A Hologram for the King

The latest novel from McSweeney’s supremo Dave Eggers takes place in the strange, otherworldly King Abdullah Economic City, a budding metropolis in the Saudi Arabian desert. Anxiety-ridden businessman Alan Clay is there to sell holographic conference call technology to the King, a task made all the more difficult by the endless waiting around he has to do in an alien environment. Clay once worked for bicycle manufacturer Schwinn, and was among the bean-counters who destroyed the company by outsourcing manufacturing to Asia, a cost-cutting exercise that drove customers away in the 1990s. Now he desperately needs to close a deal in order to clear a mountain of debt and pay his daughter’s college tuition. Up until a few months ago, no one even knew Eggers had a new book coming out, so A Hologram for the King is a wonderful surprise. It has the trademark Eggers dry humour and offbeat setting, superbly drawn secondary characters, and serves as a scathing critique of US business practices. There’s real heart and warmth in here too, as with all Eggers’ work. Quite possibly his best yet.

Chris Flynn

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