Highfill, Catherine Owen
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This thesis investigates the unique condition of Dave Eggers’ and Valentino Achak Deng’s collaboration on the book What is the What. When Eggers, an established American novelist, was introduced to Deng, a Sudanese refugee living in the United States who wanted to share his life story, they embarked on a journey that would take them both through years of friendship, story-telling, frustration, research, and collaboration. The following chapters examine a brief history of Sudan, the text as testimonio, the role of women characters, and the humanitarian impact of the book. Each section is bound together by the two men behind the creation of the text. Eggers and Deng share a dream that social impact of the book will bring awareness about one of the worst wars in history and will also prevent the same kind of atrocity from ever happening again in any part of the world.