Dave Eggers
Eggers at the 2007 Brooklyn Book Festival
Eggers at the 2007 Brooklyn Book Festival
Born (1970-03-12) March 12, 1970 (age 54)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
OccupationWriter, editor, publisher, philanthropist
Literary movementPostmodern literature, post-postmodern, new sincerity
Notable worksA 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), The Circle (2013)
Notable awardsHeinz 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 wrote the best-selling memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. He is also the founder of McSweeney's, a literary journal; the co-founder of the literacy project 826 Valencia, and a human rights nonprofit Voice of Witness, and the founder of ScholarMatch, a program that matches donors with students needing funds for college tuition. His writing has appeared in several magazines.

Personal life

Eggers was born in Boston, Massachusetts, one of four siblings. His father, John K. Eggers (1936–1991), an attorney, was Protestant. His mother, Heidi McSweeney Eggers (1940–1992), a school teacher, was Catholic. When Eggers was still a child, the family moved to the 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.[2] 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' 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.[citation needed]

Eggers lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is married to Vendela Vida, also a writer.[3] The couple has two children.[4]

Eggers's elder brother, Bill, is a researcher who has worked for several conservative think tanks, doing research promoting privatization.[5] Eggers's sister, Beth, committed suicide in November 2001.[6] Eggers briefly spoke about his sister's death during a 2002 fan interview for McSweeney's.[7]

He was one of three 2008 TED Prize recipients.[8] His TED Prize wish was for helping community members to personally engage with local public schools.[9][10] The same year, he was named one of "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World" by Utne Reader.[11]

In 2005, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from Brown University. He delivered the baccalaureate address at the school in 2008.[12]

Literary work


Eggers worked with Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng to tell a fictionalized account of Achak's life story

Eggers began writing as a Salon.com editor and founded Might magazine in San Francisco in the early 1990s with David Moodie and Marny Requa, while also writing a comic strip called Smarter Feller (originally Swell) for SF Weekly.[13] Might evolved out of the small San Francisco based independent paper Cups, and gathered a loyal following with its irreverent humour and quirky approach to the issues and personalities of the day. An article purporting to be an obituary of former 1980s child star Adam Rich (originally intended to be Back to the Future star Crispin Glover, until Glover backed-out) garnered some national attention. The magazine regularly included humour pieces, and a number of essays and non-fiction pieces by seminal 1990s writers, including "Impediments to Passion", an essay on sex in the AIDS era by David Foster Wallace. However, as Eggers later recounted in his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, the magazine consistently struggled to make a profit, and finally ceased publication in 1997. An anthology of the best of Might magazine's brief run, 'Shiny Adidas Tracksuits and the Death of Camp' and Other Essays from Might Magazine, was published in late 1998. By this time, Eggers was freelancing for Esquire magazine and continuing to work for Salon.


Eggers' 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.[14] Early printings of the 2001 trade-paperback edition were published with a lengthy postscript entitled, Mistakes We Knew We Were Making.[citation needed]

In 2002, Eggers published his first fully fictional 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.[15]

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".[16] Lawyer novelist Scott Turow wrote the introduction to Surviving Justice.

Eggers's 2006 novel What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.[17] 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.[18]

On November 7, 2009, he was presented with the "Courage in Media" Award by the Council on American-Islamic Relations for his book Zeitoun.[19] 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 on suspicion of being a terrorist.

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.[20] "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.


In the early 2010s, after going six years without publishing substantive literary fiction following What is the What, Eggers began a three-year streak of back-to-back novels, each broadly concerned with pressing social and political issues facing the United States and the wider world in the twenty-first century. 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.[21]

Eggers followed this the following October 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. Completing the productive spell, a new novel concerning anxiety with America's place in the world, Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, was published in June 2014.[22] In November 2015, Your Fathers, Where Are They... was longlisted for the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award,[23] Eggers' fifth nomination for the award following earlier nominations for The Circle, A Hologram for the King, The Wild Things, and What is the What.

In July 2016, Eggers publish his sixth novel, Heroes of the Frontier, .[24] Earlier the same year, a film adaptation of Eggers' earlier novel A Hologram for the King was released, to mixed reviews and middling commercial performance. An adaptation of The Circle starring Emma Watson, John Boyega, and Tom Hanks (who had starred in the A Hologram for the King adaptation), is due to follow in April 2017.[25]


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. [citation needed]

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,[26] Eggers was rumored to be a possible candidate to be the new editor of The Paris Review before the Review selected Lorin Stein.

Eggers in October 2008

Visual art work

While at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Eggers attended art classes. After the publication of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, he focused mainly on writing, but publicly returned to visual art with a solo gallery show at Electric Works, San Francisco, in 2010, called "It Is Right to Draw Their Fur."[27] The show featured many drawings of animals often paired with phrases, sometimes out of the Bible.[28] In conjunction with that exhibition, McSweeney's published a catalog featuring 25 loose-leaf prints of the work featured in the show. In 2015 Eggers had his first solo museum exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art called "The Insufferable Throne of God," curated by Joanne Northrup.[28] Eggers is represented by Electric Works a fine art gallery in San Francisco.

Outside of exhibitions, Eggers visual art contributions include the following:

826 National

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.[30] It has since grown into six chapters across the United States: Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Washington, D.C., and Boston, all under the auspices of the nonprofit organization 826 National.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33] In accordance with Eggers's wishes, the award money was given to 826 National and The Teacher Salary Project.[34] 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.

Musical contributions

Awards and honors

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (November 2012)







Criticism and interpretation


  1. ^ "Dave Eggers: By the Book". The New York Times. July 12, 2012.
  2. ^ ""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 February 16, 2007.
  3. ^ Joshunda Sanders (August 27, 2003). "Vendela Vida floats amid S.F. literati but keeps feet, attitude firmly planted". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 22, 2007.
  4. ^ ""Different worlds: The many lives — novelist, social activist, literary innovator, teacher — of Dave Eggers" by Susan Larson". The Times-Picayune. February 6, 2007. Retrieved February 22, 2007.
  5. ^ "William D. Eggers". Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. n.d. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Readers Interview Dave Eggers". McSweeney's Internet Tendency. 2002. Archived from the original on February 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-19. ((cite web)): Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  8. ^ "TED Blog: Announcing 2008 TED Prize Winners". 2007. Retrieved November 21, 2007.
  9. ^ "Talks Dave Eggers: 2008 TED Prize wish: Once Upon a School" (video). TED Conference Website. Retrieved March 19, 2008.
  10. ^ "TEDPrize 2008 Winner: Dave Eggers". TED Prize Website. Retrieved March 19, 2008.
  11. ^ Visionaries Who Are Changing the World
  12. ^ "Dave Eggers to deliver Brown University commencement address". May 19, 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2009.
  13. ^ ""Growing Up in Public: David Eggers and Ann Powers" by Mark Athitakis". SF Weekly. March 8, 2000. Retrieved February 21, 2007.
  14. ^ Hoffmann, Lukas (2016). Postirony: The Nonfictional Literature of David Foster Wallace and Dave Eggers. Bielefeld: transcript. ISBN 978-3-8376-3661-1.
  15. ^ "Introducing (again) Dave Eggers". Salon.com. 2004. Archived from the original on November 17, 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-21. ((cite web)): Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  16. ^ "Surviving Justice: About the Editors". Voice of Witness. n.d. Archived from the original on July 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-20. ((cite web)): Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  17. ^ "NBCC Awards Finalists". The National Book Critics Circle, bookcritics.org. n.d. Archived from the original on February 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-11. ((cite web)): External link in |work= (help); Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  18. ^ "Making It Up as We Go Along". ESPN the Magazine. March 11, 2008. Retrieved September 29, 2008.
  19. ^ "Announcing 'Courage in Media' Award Recipient: Author & Activist Dave Eggers". CAIR California. October 30, 2009. Archived from the original on November 6, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2009. ((cite web)): Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  20. ^ "Rohter, Larry, "Hollywood Ignores East-West Exchange"". The New York Times. March 18, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  21. ^ http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2012.html#.UHWre_mlpRg
  22. ^ "Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?". Random House. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  23. ^ http://www.dublinliteraryaward.ie/nominees/your-fathers-where-are-they-and-the-prophets-do-they-live-forever/
  24. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/05/books/dave-eggers-journeys-into-alaska-in-heroes-of-the-frontier.html?_r=0
  25. ^ http://deadline.com/2016/10/tom-hanks-emma-watson-the-circle-april-2017-release-date-1201833008/
  26. ^ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/21/RVSI1C0TRJ.DTL&type=printable
  27. ^ "Electric Works: Current and Past Exhibitions". sfelectricworks.com. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  28. ^ a b "Dave Eggers: Insufferable Throne of God | Nevada Museum of Art". www.nevadaart.org. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  29. ^ "Vheissu (liner notes)". Island Records. 2005. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  30. ^ "A heartwarming work of literary altruism" San Francisco Chronicle, Accessed on 2009-04-07
  31. ^ "826 Chapters". 826 National. n.d. Retrieved February 20, 2007.
  32. ^ "Revenge of the Book–Eaters". Bookeaters.org. 2006. Retrieved February 20, 2007.
  33. ^ The Heinz Awards, Dave Eggers profile
  34. ^ ""We never feel any sort of ownership" by John Freeman". Guardian Unlimited. London. September 14, 2007. Retrieved September 15, 2007. An interview to Eggers
  35. ^ ""I'm always in danger of being dismissed as a clown" by Chris Salmon". Guardian Unlimited. London. September 21, 2006. Retrieved February 21, 2007.
  36. ^ "National Book Award Finalists Announced Today". Library Journal. October 10, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  37. ^ "10 Best Books of 2012". The New York Times. November 30, 2012.
  38. ^ http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/best-books/2012/fiction#book/book-16
  39. ^ Wegen Grass: US-Autor bleibt Preisverleihung fern, Weser-Kurier, 13. April 2012
  40. ^ http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/literatur/0,1518,827306,00.htm Günter Grass. Albatros-Literaturpreis abgesagt. Spiegel online am 13. April 2012
  41. ^ http://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/special-events/california-book-awards
  42. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2091473/fullcredits#writers
  43. ^ Gerhardt, Tina (December 31, 2012). "Matt Damon Exposes Fracking in Promised Land". The Progressive.