A Hologram for the King
Vintage Books, 2012
Geek Rating: Helios worthy (4 out of 5 stars)
Eisenberg Rating: 1,100 out of 2,000 stars
“What he had was a sense that few things mattered much. That few people are to be feared. And so he now faced all such situations with a sense of exhausted resolve, and he dealt with everything head-on.”
There was something magical about Dave Egger’s novel A Hologram for the King, it might be the desert setting, or the protagonist Alan Clay himself. Whatever the case, this story will make you turn its pages, not noticing that you are reading a book, but rather like you’re in a conversation with Alan himself.
A Hologram for the King is the story of Alan Clay who flew to Saudi Arabia with his tech team to win the communications technology contract to a city that was being built in the middle of a desert. In here, we will learn about Alan’s problems, like that of many Americans, on his family, the money to send his daughter in college, his divorce, his past jobs, his debt to investors and the reality of the declining empire of America.
In stepping in a new world, Alan would see the difference between America and Saudi Arabia, eventually learning about himself, about his life, and about the world, in the process.
The book is a brave take of what was happening in America during its decline, it could not provide answers, however, just a deep reflection of what they were and what they have become. But that is not to say that this novel is about failure, if anything, it is the opposite, as readers would see especially on the end, where Eggers tells us that they do not need answers, because they have it all along: their attitude of not giving up.
Eggers tell the story in a quick series of events, the narration so simple that you could hear the silence and the desolation of the place and of Alan himself. Eggers describe the scenes and the surroundings with such clarity that readers would automatically feel the heat of Saudi Arabia, smell its surroundings and hear its sounds. That is the strength of the book, as well as, the symbolisms that would crop up every now and then.
“Hologram” in a sense is the author’s way of telling himself and the readers that he wanted to do what should be done to improve his life, the life of millions in his country, to search for answers, even though he does not now how to, or where to search for it.
As a millennial, the story might be lost to us, but there’ something in it close to home, much closer that we could almost see what he was talking about, that will make you both shudder and be thankful for preparing you for the world ahead. That “world ahead” might be called “advance adulting.”
This story will be memorable for its parts: the road travels to KAEC with Yousef, the letters Alan wrote to his daughter Kit inside the hotel room, the tent in the middle of a desert. The sum of its parts will make “Hologram” one of the books that you will someday revisit, and be glad to, because it would be like talking to an old friend.