Eggers at the 2007 Brooklyn Book Festival
March 12, 1970 |
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Occupation||Writer, editor, publisher, philanthropist|
|Literary movement||Postmodern literature, post-postmodern, new sincerity|
|Notable works||A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000), What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (2006), Zeitoun (2009), A Hologram for the King (2012)|
|Notable awards||Heinz Award, Independent Publisher Book Award, Prix Médicis, Los Angeles Times Book Prize|
Dave Eggers (born March 12, 1970) is an American writer, editor, and publisher. He is known for the best-selling memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and for his subsequent work as a novelist and screenwriter. He is also the founder of McSweeney's, the co-founder of the literacy project 826 Valencia, and the founder of ScholarMatch, a program that matches donors with students needing funds for college tuition. His writing has appeared in several magazines, most notably The New Yorker. His works have received a significant amount of critical acclaim.
Eggers was born in Boston, Massachusetts, one of four siblings. His father was John K. Eggers (1936–1991), an attorney. His mother, Heidi McSweeney Eggers (1940–1992), was a school teacher. When Eggers was still a child, the family moved to the upscale suburb of Lake Forest, near Chicago, where he attended high school and was a classmate of actor Vince Vaughn. Eggers attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, intending to get a degree in journalism, but his studies were interrupted by the deaths of both of his parents in 1991–1992—his father in 1991 from brain and lung cancer, and his mother in January 1992 from stomach cancer. Both were in their 50s.
These events were chronicled in his first book, the fictionalized A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. At the time, Eggers was 21, and his younger brother, Christopher ("Toph"), was 8 years old. The two eldest siblings, Bill and Beth, were unable to commit to care for Toph; his older brother had a full-time job and his sister was enrolled in law school. As a result, Dave Eggers took the responsibility. He left the University of Illinois and moved to Berkeley, California, with his girlfriend Kirsten and his brother. They initially moved in with Eggers's sister, Beth, and her roommate, but eventually found a place in another part of town, which they paid for with money left to them by their parents. Toph attended a small private school, and Eggers did temp work and freelance graphic design for a local newspaper. Eventually, with his friend David Moodie, he took over a local free newspaper called Cups. This gradually evolved into the satirical magazine Might.
Eggers's elder brother, Bill, is a researcher who has worked for several conservative think tanks, doing research promoting privatization. Eggers's sister, Beth, committed suicide in November 2001. Eggers briefly spoke about his sister's death during a 2002 fan interview for McSweeney's.
He was one of three 2008 TED Prize recipients. His TED Prize wish was for helping community members to personally engage with local public schools. The same year, he was named one of "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World" by Utne Reader.
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Eggers began writing as a Salon.com editor and founded Might magazine, while also writing a comic strip called Smarter Feller (originally Swell) for SF Weekly. His first book was a memoir (with fictional elements), A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000), which focused on the author's struggle to raise his younger brother in San Francisco following the deaths of both of their parents. The book quickly became a bestseller and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. The memoir was praised for its originality, idiosyncratic self-referencing, and for several innovative stylistic elements. Early printings of the 2001 trade-paperback edition were published with a lengthy postscript entitled, Mistakes We Knew We Were Making.
In 2002, Eggers published his first novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity, a story about a frustrating attempt to give away money to deserving people while haphazardly traveling the globe. An expanded and revised version was released as Sacrament in 2003. A version without the new material in Sacrament was created and retitled You Shall Know Our Velocity! for a Vintage imprint distribution. He has since published a collection of short stories, How We Are Hungry, and three politically themed serials for Salon.com.
In November 2005, Eggers published Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated, a book of interviews with former prisoners sentenced to death and later exonerated. The book was compiled with Lola Vollen, "a physician specializing in the aftermath of large-scale human rights abuses" and "a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley's Institute of International Studies and a practicing clinician". Lawyer novelist Scott Turow wrote the introduction to Surviving Justice. Eggers's 2006 novel What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (McSweeney's) was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Eggers also edits the Best American Nonrequired Reading series, an annual anthology of short stories, essays, journalism, satire, and alternative comics.
Eggers was one of the original contributors to ESPN The Magazine and helped create its section "The Jump". He also acted as the first, anonymous "Answer Guy", a column that continued to run after he stopped working for the publication.
On November 7, 2009, he was presented with the "Courage in Media" Award by the Council on American-Islamic Relations for his book Zeitoun. The story is of a Syrian immigrant, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, in New Orleans who was helping neighbors after Hurricane Katrina when he was arrested, imprisoned and suffered abuse. Zeitoun has been optioned by Jonathan Demme, who is working on a screenplay for an animated film-rendition of the work. To Demme, it "felt like the first in-depth immersion I'd ever had through literature or film into the Muslim-American family. ... The moral was that they are like people of any other faith, and I hope our film, if we can get it made, will also be like that." Demme, quoted in early 2011, expressed confidence that when the script is finished, he will be able to find financing, perhaps even from a major studio. "It's a wonderful, gripping story," he said, "and we can have a very, very competitive commercial picture that won't cost an enormous amount," since animation provides an alternative to expensive re-creations of the hurricane.
Eggers published his novel of the Great Recession and late 2000s financial crisis,A Hologram for the King, in July 2012. In October of that year, the novel was announced as a finalist for the National Book Award. Eggers followed this with 2013's The Circle, which depicts the life of a young worker at a fictional San Francisco based technology company in the near future as she faces doubts about her vocation due to the company's seemingly well-intentioned innovations revealing a more sinister underlying agenda. A new novel, titled Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, was published in June 2014.
Eggers founded McSweeney's, an independent publishing house, named for his mother's maiden name. The publishing house produces a quarterly literary journal, Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, first published in 1998; a monthly journal, The Believer, which debuted in 2003 and is edited by Eggers's wife, Vendela Vida; and, beginning in 2005, a quarterly DVD magazine, Wholphin. Other works include The Future Dictionary of America, Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans, and "Dr. and Mr. Haggis-On-Whey", all children's books of literary nonsense, which Eggers writes with his younger brother and uses as a pseudonym.
Ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Eggers wrote an essay about the U.S. national team and soccer in the United States for The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup, which contained essays about each competing team in the tournament and was published with aid from the journal Granta. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Eggers was rumored to be a possible candidate to be the new editor of The Paris Review before the Review selected Lorin Stein.
In 2002, Eggers and educator Nínive Clements Calegari co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for kids ages 6–18 in San Francisco. It has since grown into seven chapters across the United States: Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Washington, D.C., and Boston, all under the auspices of the nonprofit organization 826 National. In 2006, he appeared at a series of fund-raising events, dubbed the Revenge of the Book–Eaters tour, to support these programs. The Chicago show, at the Park West theatre, featured Death Cab for Cutie front man Ben Gibbard. Other performers on the tour included Sufjan Stevens, Jon Stewart, Davy Rothbart, and David Byrne. In September 2007, the Heinz Family Foundation awarded Eggers a $250,000 Heinz Award (given to recognize "extraordinary achievements by individuals") in the Arts and Humanities. In accordance with Eggers's wishes, the award money was given to 826 National and The Teacher Salary Project. In April 2010, under the umbrella of 826 National, Eggers launched ScholarMatch, a nonprofit organization that connects donors with students to make college more affordable.
- Eggers provided album art for Austin rock group, Paul Banks & The Carousels' album Yelling at the Sun.
- Eggers designed the artwork for Thrice's album Vheissu.
- Eggers can be heard talking with Spike Jonze during "The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton", the final track on Beck's 2006 album The Information. The third section of the track features Eggers and Jonze responding to Beck's question, "What would the ultimate record that ever could possibly be made sound like?"
- Eggers contributed lyrics to the song, "The Ghost of Rita Gonzolo", on One Ring Zero's album As Smart as We Are (2004).
Awards and honors
- 2000 Time Best Book of the Year, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
- 2000 Washington Post Best Book of the Year, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
- 2000 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
- 2000 Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
- 2000 New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
- 2001 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction finalist, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
- 2001 Addison Metcalfe Award (American Academy of Arts and Letters)
- 2003 Independent Book Award, You Shall Know Our Velocity
- 2005 Named one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People
- 2006 Salon Book Award for What is the What
- 2007 Heinz Award (Arts and Humanities)
- 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award (Fiction) finalist, What is the What
- 2008 TED Prize
- 2008 IMPAC Literary Award longlist, What is the What
- 2009 Literarian Award of the National Book Award
- 2009 Prix Médicis award, What is the What
- 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Current Interest), Zeitoun
- 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Innovator's Award)
- 2009 Entertainment Weekly "End-of-the-Decade" Best of list, Zeitoun
- 2010 American Book Award, Zeitoun
- 2010 Northern California Book Award (Creative Nonfiction) nomination, Zeitoun
- 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Zeitoun
- 2011 IMPAC Literary Award longlist, The Wild Things
- 2012 National Book Award (Fiction) finalist, A Hologram for the King
- 2012 A Hologram for the King named in the 10 Best Books of 2012 list by editors of The New York Times Book Review
- 2012 A Hologram for the King included in Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2012 list
- 2012 Commonwealth Club Inforum's 21st Century Award
- 2012 Hollywood.com Best Books of 2012 list, A Hologram for the King)
- 2012 Albatros Literaturpreis for Zeitoun, co-won with German translators Ulrike Wasel and Klaus Timmermann.
- 2012 New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2012 List (Fiction & Poetry), A Hologram for the King
- 2012 New York Times 10 Best Books of 2012 list (Fiction, chosen by the editors of The New York Times Book Review), A Hologram for the King
- 2012 PEN Center USA Award of Honor 2012
- 2013 Eggers was the 2013 recipient of Smithsonian magazine's American Ingenuity Award in the Social Progress category
- 2013 California Book Award (Fiction)finalist, A Hologram for the King
- 2014 IMPAC Literary Award longlist, A Hologram for the King
- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000)
- Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers (co-authored with Daniel Moulthrop and Nínive Clements Calegari) (2005)
- Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated (co-compiled with Lola Vollen; with an introduction by Scott Turow) (2005)
- Zeitoun (2009)
- Visitants (2015)
- You Shall Know Our Velocity (novel) (2002)
- Sacrament (revised and expanded version of You Shall Know Our Velocity) (2003)
- The Unforbidden is Compulsory; or, Optimism (novella) (2004)
- How We Are Hungry (short stories) (2004)
- Short Short Stories (short stories, part of the Pocket Penguin series) (2005)
- What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (novel) (2006)
- How the Water Feels to the Fishes (short stories; part of One Hundred and Forty-Five Stories in a Small Box) (2007)
- The Wild Things – novel inspired by Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
- A Hologram for the King (2012)
- The Circle (2013)
- Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? (2014)
- Giraffes? Giraffes! (as Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey, co-authored with Christopher Eggers) (2003)
- Your Disgusting Head (as Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey, co-authored with Christopher Eggers) (2004)
- Animals of the Ocean, in Particular the Giant Squid (as Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey, co-authored with Christopher Eggers) (2006)
- Cold Fusion (as Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey, co-authored with Christopher Eggers) (2009)
- Away We Go, with wife Vendela Vida (2009)
- Where the Wild Things Are, with director Spike Jonze (2009)
- Promised Land, screenplay by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, story by Dave Eggers (2012)
- Jokes Told in Heaven About Babies (as Lucy Thomas) (2003)
- Salon.com serials: "The Unforbidden Is Compulsory Or, Optimism", "The Fishmonger Returns", and "New Hampshire Is for Lovers" (2004)
As editor or contributor (non-McSweeney's publications)
- Speaking with the Angel: Original Stories, edited by Nick Hornby (contributor) (2000)
- When Penguins Attack, by Tom Tomorrow (introduction) (2000)
- The Onion Ad Nauseam: The Complete News Archives, Volume 13 (introduction) (2002)
- The O. Henry Prize Stories 2002 (selected by, with Joyce Carol Oates and Colson Whitehead) (2002)
- The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002 (editor, with Michael Cart) (2002)
- The Tenants of Moonbloom, by Edward Lewis Wallant (reissue of Wallant's 1963 novel with introduction) (2003)
- The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 (editor; introduction by Zadie Smith) (2003)
- Happy Baby by Stephen Elliott (editor; designed by McSweeney's and published and distributed by MacAdam/Cage) (2004)
- The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004 (editor; introduction by Viggo Mortensen) (2004)
- The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005 (editor; introduction by Beck) (2005)
- Penguin Classics edition of Forty Stories by Donald Barthelme (introduction) (2005)
- The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup, edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey (contributor) (2006)
- The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006 (editor; introduction by Matt Groening) (2006)
- Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace (introduction to 10th anniversary edition) (2006)
- John Currin (contributor; additional text by John Currin, Norman Bryson, and Alison Gingeras) (2006)
- The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007 (editor; introduction by Sufjan Stevens) (2007)
- The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008 (editor; introduction by Judy Blume) (2008)
- FOUND: Requiem for a Paper Bag (essay contributor) (2009)
- The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009 (editor; introduction by Marjane Satrapi) (2009)
- The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010 (editor; introduction by David Sedaris) (2010)
- The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011 (editor; introduction by Guillermo Del Toro) (2011)
- ""Four prize-winning authors taking part in U. of I. series that begins Feb. 8" by Andrea Lynn". News Bureau, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. January 23, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-16.
- ""Vendela Vida floats amid S.F. literati but keeps feet, attitude firmly planted" by Joshunda Sanders". San Francisco Chronicle. August 27, 2003. Retrieved 2007-02-22.
- ""Different worlds: The many lives — novelist, social activist, literary innovator, teacher — of Dave Eggers" by Susan Larson". The Times-Picayune. February 6, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-22.
- "William D. Eggers". Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. n.d. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
- Preston, John (December 29, 2009). "Dave Eggers interview: the heartbreak kid". Telegraph.co.uk (The Daily Telegraph) (London: Telegraph Media Group Limited). Retrieved September 22, 2010.
- "Readers Interview Dave Eggers". McSweeney's Internet Tendency. 2002. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
- "TED Blog: Announcing 2008 TED Prize Winners". 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-21.
- "Talks Dave Eggers: 2008 TED Prize wish: Once Upon a School" (video). TED Conference Website. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
- "TEDPrize 2008 Winner: Dave Eggers". TED Prize Website. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
- Visionaries Who Are Changing the World
- "Dave Eggers to deliver Brown University commencement address". May 19, 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2009.
- ""Growing Up in Public: David Eggers and Ann Powers" by Mark Athitakis". SF Weekly. March 8, 2000. Retrieved 2007-02-21.
- "Introducing (again) Dave Eggers". Salon.com. 2004. Retrieved 2007-02-21.
- "Surviving Justice: About the Editors". Voice of Witness. n.d. Archived from the original on July 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
- "NBCC Awards Finalists". The National Book Critics Circle, bookcritics.org. n.d. Archived from the original on February 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-11.
- "Making It Up as We Go Along". ESPN the Magazine. March 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
- "Announcing 'Courage in Media' Award Recipient: Author & Activist Dave Eggers". CAIR California. October 30, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2009.
- "Rohter, Larry, "Hollywood Ignores East-West Exchange"". The New York Times. March 18, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
- "Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?". Random House. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
- "A heartwarming work of literary altruism" San Francisco Chronicle, Accessed on 2009-04-07
- "826 Chapters". 826 National. n.d. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
- "Revenge of the Book–Eaters". Bookeaters.org. 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
- The Heinz Awards, Dave Eggers profile
- ""We never feel any sort of ownership" by John Freeman". Guardian Unlimited (London). September 14, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-15. An interview to Eggers
- Vheissu (liner notes). Island Records. 2005.
- ""I'm always in danger of being dismissed as a clown" by Chris Salmon". Guardian Unlimited (London). September 21, 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-21.
- "National Book Award Finalists Announced Today". Library Journal. October 10, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- "10 Best Books of 2012". The New York Times. November 30, 2012.
- Wegen Grass: US-Autor bleibt Preisverleihung fern, Weser-Kurier, 13. April 2012
- http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/literatur/0,1518,827306,00.htm Günter Grass. Albatros-Literaturpreis abgesagt. Spiegel online am 13. April 2012
- Gerhardt, Tina (December 31, 2012). "Matt Damon Exposes Fracking in Promised Land". The Progressive.
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- Author page on the McSweeney's website (features a detailed bibliography)
- 826 National
- Radio Interview on Bookworm, February 1, 2007
- Interview about 826 National on Public School Insights, Posted May 20, 2008
- TED Prize Wish: Dave Eggers makes his TED Prize wish: Once Upon a School at TED in 2008
- The Teacher Salary Project